On 2 March 2023 a meeting of the Museum collegium, which is an advisory body to the Board of Trustees, was held. Its members include art historian Prof. Zdeněk Lukeš, former Voice of America journalist Mr Jolyon Naegele, former constitutional judge and chair of the Office for Personal Data Protection Prof. Ivana Janů, prominent dissident figure Mr František Stárek and head of the Department of Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education of Charles University Prof. Stanislav Bendl.
The main topic of the meeting was the debate on the proposal for the libretto of the permanent exhibition at the House of Pages at Hradčany, whose reconstruction was approved by the Prague`s City Council in 2022. The expected date of completion of the adaptation of the future residence and the opening of the permanent exhibition is May 2025. The draft libretto was prepared by a working group led by historian Petr Blažek. The basic approach is the concept of the narrative museum, which has been promoted in museology in recent decades. In addition to foreign institutions, the debates on the focus of the permanent exhibition also took into account the existing or planned similar exhibition projects of other museums and memorials in the Czech Republic (the National Museum, the Žižkov Army Museum, the Prague City Museum, the Moravian Museum, the Lidice Memorial, the Memorial to the Three Resistances, the Jan Palach Memorial in Všetaty, the Museum of Literature, etc.).
The design of the libretto of the permanent exhibition also includes visualizations prepared by the IXA studio under the direction of doc. ing. arch. Tomáš Hradečný for the presentation of the upcoming headquarters of the Museum at the Centre for Architecture and Urban Planning (CAMP) on 30 November 2022.
Czechoslovakia and totalitarianism is the main theme of the exhibition. The intention is to present in particular various forms of historical memory, their plurality and the general framework of the chosen period, and at the same time specific stories using three-dimensional collection objects. Modern audiovisual means will be used, which are a prerequisite for an attractive, educational and entertaining form of exhibition. The aim is also to convey education, inspiration, emotions and experiences to visitors. The permanent exhibition will be aimed at the general public, with an emphasis on second-level primary school pupils and secondary and university students. The aim is also to reach out to foreign visitors and thus promote tourism in Prague. The exposition will also be linked to mobile applications for historical walks in other places in Prague. There will also be educational programmes for the public and schools, an electronic presentation of the exhibition on the museum’s website and accompanying publications.
The permanent exhibition is limited by the size of the available exhibition space, which is just under 250 m2. Therefore, other parts of the museum building (courtyard, garden, library and lecture hall) will be used mainly for temporary exhibitions. The aim is to create a lively cultural institution where a number of accompanying events (debates, seminars, conferences, outdoor exhibitions, film screenings, concerts, etc.) will be held simultaneously.
The libretto contains the following basic exhibition sub-themes:
- The Unintelligible State (Czechoslovakia, its symbols and representatives: projects, alternatives, illusions and reality, introductory film screening)
- Sovietization (sources of Sovietization, changes in the relationship to Russia and the USSR, historical turning points, the three resistance movements, propaganda, the main exhibition object, the statue of Marshal Konev),
- Totalitarianism (totalitarian regimes, their relations and comparisons, ideology, features of totalitarianism, resistance against totalitarian regimes),
- Old Town Square (place of memory, transformations of Prague, concepts of historical memory and politics of memory, its displacement and transformations, clashes of cultural representations)
- Domeček (the former prison in Kapucínská Street as a place of repression, continuity in the use of the building, political repression, biographies of victims and perpetrators, the theme of rehabilitation, memory culture)
- Technology and totalitarianism (instruments of power, control, propaganda and instruments of freedom and resistance, intelligence technology, samizdat, the connection between domestic opposition and exile).
Meeting of the Museum Collegium on 2 March 2022 (photo: Veronika Bendová)