Wednesday, June 13, 2012: Where’s Mucha?

Do you remember this museum on wheels? Read on ...

Where’s Mucha?

The newest variation on the old game “Where’s Waldo?” — this time, “Where’s Mucha?” — opens next month at a Czech and Slovak museum.

The answer is: In Iowa.

The Cedar Rapids museum is officially re-opening July 14-15 following flood repairs, which included lifting up the entire building weighing almost 1.4 million kilos, and moving it to higher ground 146 metres away. (Video: Opus Osm, May 3, 2011 – click on this date. You’ll see this illustration of the museum, and the video at the bottom of the page.)

In the new building, you can view the exhibition “Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau,” meet Mucha’s grandson, John, and see films about the artist. An exhibition of award-winning Slovak art for children’s books, and one on restoring flood-damaged Czech folk costumes, are also scheduled, along with a discussion on the history of Staropramen beer.

Saturday evening, July 14, the entire front of the museum will be transformed into a video, “Nesmírnost” (“Immensity”), recounting the effort required to restore the water-and-mud damaged collection and to move the entire museum in one piece. All the festivities will be accompanied by “authentic” Czech and Slovak food, folk dancing, music, and other activities.

The 2008 flood caused about USD11 million in damages, and the restoration including the move is estimated to cost more than USD25 million, according to museum officials.

The successful move and restoration is certainly something to celebrate, so if you’re planning to visit the US in July, consider a detour July 14 and 15 to Cedar Rapids. If you can’t make it til later, the Mucha exhibition still runs through Dec 31.

Why is a Czech-Slovak museum in Cedar Rapids? The first Bohemian and Slovak immigrants to the US settled in this part of Iowa more than 150 years ago. The Cedar Rapids museum is near Spillville, where Dvořák and his family spent the summer of 1893, and the composer completed several musical sketches and works. — oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library website

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