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CITY MUSEUM IN ČELÁKOVICE

 

 

     In the year 2003, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of founding one of the oldest museums in the former Brandýs district and the current district Prague East.

     Its founding was influenced by nationwide ethnographic exhibitions and similar events as well as patriotism, interest in cultural values, patriotic feelings and erudition of the then representatives as well as other citizens and, in particular, teachers of the city of Čelákovice.

     The Mayor’s call on September 23, 1903, for donation of antique relics and establishment of the local museum met with a positive answer and over a short time about a hundred of different collection items were presented to the public in one room of the then city hall.

     The collections were continually expanded thanks to citizen’s donations as well as archeological findings, especially from the local brickyard. After the new City Hall was built in September 1911, one of the large rooms was again devoted to the purposes of the City Museum. WWI subdued the museum activity, which was again renewed after the Czechoslovakian Republic was originated.

     The expanding collections demanded larger premises that the city hall did not have. In 1939, the Beautification and Gardening Society in Čelákovice was put in charge of the museum collection. Thanks to the city, the Society‘s “Museum Department” received three rooms where the museum collections were opened to the public in 1941.

     The exposition, which introduced 532 items, was based on the proposal of the framework program of the Union of Czechoslovak Museums and, together with seven other museums, it became a “model exhibition” for smaller regional museums.

     The years of war projected into the life of our museum as well, and it was closed in March 1944. Immediately following the end of the war there was an effort to renew the activities of the museum. However, due to solving different political and other problems, the issue of the museum was only marginal for the city’s government. Due to dealing with housing problems, the museum collections were moved in 1949 to two rooms of the former pub “Ve Tvrzi”, where they remained packed in cases. The Beautification Society was dissolved for political reasons in 1951 and the museum collections remained closed.

     In October 1956, some collections were presented in the form of an exhibition and in April of the following year, a permanent exhibition could be seen. Thus, the year 1957 became a certain milestone in the history of the Čelákovice Museum. In the following years, the public and representatives of the city, the district as well as the region became aware of the museum activities, thanks to a circle of voluntary museum workers. New exhibitions were installed in the newly available rooms of the Fortress and a number of exhibitions took place in the reconstructed courtyard building.

     Pursuing the new trend of communist cultural policy by the superior bodies and identifying the members of the museum circle as its enemies resulted in the middle of 1965 in transforming the Čelákovice Museum into an affiliate of the District Museum Prague-East and the work of the museum circle being subdued. Luckily, the intent of the museum’s director to present the blue-collar movement and the industry of the region has never been implemented.

     At the end of 1966, even the bodies of the District National Committee Prague-East recognized that the situation of the museum needed to be resolved and the position of the director was filled again in 1967. Despite of this step, the situation did not improve much. The museum’s specialist came on an irregular basis, which influenced the overall activities of the museum. Based on the current, and rather negative, contribution of the involuntary merger, the museum discussed the situation with the then director of the Administration of Museum and Ethnographic Work in Prague, Mr. V. Pubal. After securing his support as well as the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czechoslovak Republic, the city asked for the museum to be independent. As of January 1, 1969, the City Museum in Čelákovice regained its own status.

     PhDr. Z. Šolle was appointed the director and the museum circle renewed its activities. New premises were opened for the needs of the museum in the Fortress. In the following year, the current and new exhibits were installed. These were highly evaluated in professional circles. The year 1970 had a negative twist to it when, following installation of the exhibition “Fantasy and Reality” documenting research of the universe, Dr. Šolle had to leave as the director and the author of this article was prohibited from entering the museum. A young active communist was appointed the director, with the intention of transforming the exhibitions of the entire museums into the exhibition of the history of the blue-collar movement and the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. He could not handle the situation psychologically and was removed from his office following a long-term treatment. At the end of 1971, a selection procedure for the position of the director was announced and the author of this article was appointed the director in March 1972.

     After many years it was possible to obtain financial resources for the reconstruction of the entire deteriorated object of the Fortress and for its constructional, historical and archeological research. The results were used for project documentation of the entire reconstruction of the site, which lasted until 1982. The outdoor work was finished well into the following year, while the new exhibits were being prepared. These were opened in a ceremony on 21 June, 1983.

     Ten days later, on 1 July, 1983, owing to the representatives of the then District Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the District National Committee, the museum lost its independent status again for several years, including all consequences of the communist regime. A large team of voluntary co-workers was dissolved and all links to altruistic cooperation were lost. They could not be renewed even following the post-November re-division of July 1, 1990. In 1991, it was possible to carry out the reconstruction of the birthplace of the Čelákovice painter Čeněk Janda and in June of the same year it was possible to open an exhibition there, titled “Čelákovice basket making”. In 1996, the museum acquired another building in Rybářská St., where the archeological workroom and depositories were located until the end of 1998.
 
     Twenty employees, including nine specialists, conduct the current wide-ranging activities of the City Museum in Čelákovice. Apart from its fundamental mission, the museum carries out other activities in the cultural area and provides for rescue archeological activities covering 55 territorial municipal units on more than 30 thousand hectares. The open museum exhibitions cover an area larger than 550 sqm, dozens of exhibitions, lectures and discussions, care for basic collections totaling several hundred thousands of items as well as activities reaching beyond the region – that is the current overview of the results of years of systematic professional and challenging work of the City Museum employees.