Sunday, March 8, 2015

National Czech & Slovak Museum

During our lunch break on Sunday, we visited the National Czech & Slovak Museum.  It was very rich in history but poor in original, authentic artifacts.  The building is beautiful architecturally, and a magnificent chandelier graces the foyer.
At the information desk we paid our $10.00 admission fees, and the receptionist showed us a map of the museum.  Across from the desk was the theater where we could watch films about the history of the museum and Czech and Slovak history.

 Since we only had one hour in which to tour the museum, I stepped into the theater to see it, but did not stay to watch the films.  The photo on the right shows the museum flooded during the horrific flooding Cedar Rapids faced in 2008.  More than $11 million of damage was done, and some of the museum's collections were damaged, which may account for the relative lack of original artifacts.  After the flood, the large building was moved 480 feet to higher ground.
After talking with the receptionist, we visited Smith Gallery.  Currently on exhibition was Peter Sis' Cartography of the Mind displayed on loan at the museum from September 2014 to March 1, 2015 (we saw it on its last day there).  Sis' art is expressive.
From there, we went to the Petrik Gallery which currently is home to the temporary exhibit Tragedy of the Slovak Jews.  The walls are lined with storyboards with the stories of the Slovak Jews and of the national uprising as well as photos of the holocaust, underground workers, and other prominent figures. 
 Also on the walls were examples of anti-semitic propaganda and posters.  A concentration camp uniform and a national uprising uniform were on display, as was the star of David which the Nazis forced the Jews to wear.  In the display on the lower left is a replica of how prisoners made their chess sets--by drawing the board on a piece of paper and shaping bread dough into pieces.  

The Holocaust was a dreadful example of inhumanity, and I pray the world will never see such hatred, unprovoked cruelty, and needless suffering of humans at the hands of others on such a wide scale again.  

Next, we toured the Jiruska Gallery to see the permanent exhibition Faces of Freedom: The Czech and Slovak Journey.
The photo on the upper left shows the entrance to the gallery with quotes on the walls.  Each of the speakers is playing a voice relating the thoughts of the person portrayed in the cut-out.  However, with all the voices playing at once, it was hard to distinguish what each voice was saying.

On the upper right is a timeline of notable Czechoslovakian events.  The lower right shows what the inside of a ship would look like.  The mirrors on the far wall create an interesting effect, making the ship seem twice as big as it is.  The same effect with mirrors is used for the costume display. 
 Aren't the traditional outfits colorful?  In this part of the room you could choose what type of regional music you would like to listen to as you admired the dresses.
 The display in the upper left is on sewing.  The upper right shows a period living room.

Soviet propaganda posters are displayed as well as a Young Pioneer's uniform.  Other clothing items are also on display.  Voices and videos playing here and there throughout the museum with various displays lend a rather eerie feel. 
Seeing the Nazi and then Soviet propaganda made me wonder how much propaganda we are being fed today. 

 Last of all, I visited the gift shop.  There were many beautiful glass and china dishes on display, most were for sale.  Also available were cards, books, and the normal gift shop-type items.
The Skala Bartizal library is open most of the week, but since it is closed on Sundays and Mondays, we didn't have the opportunity to see it.  Guided tours to what I understood was a small, historically furnished cabin are given at set times throughout the day.

Was the museum worth the $10.00 admission fee?  It's not terribly expensive, but you can visit the State Historical Museum or the Iowa Gold Star Museum for free, and both have vaster collections of original artifacts.  The Wapsipinicon Feed Mill and Dam is also free.  You can visit the Antique Car Museum of Iowa and the Johnson County Historical Museum for $5.00 total, and you can get a round trip ride at the Fenelon Place Elevator for $3.00.

In other words, while $10.00 may be a reasonable amount, there are a lot of other places in Iowa that are more interesting and much less expensive.

That said, the museum was interesting, and I learned more about Czech and Slovak History.  If I had the chance to live the day over, I would stand by my decision of visiting, simply because I would not want to look back and ask myself, "Why didn't I visit that museum?  I was so close!"

78 comments:

  1. It does look like an interesting place. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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  2. the flood explains the new building and, as you said, perhaps the lack of artifacts. still, the clothing displays are neat. portions of the museum are very sobering, i'm sure. i liked your statement about propaganda. :)

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    1. The clothing and the mirrors in the "ship" were probably my favorite displays. :) Thanks!

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  3. Wow- That is quite a museum. Too bad about the flood and probably why there is so much "lacking". I think it must have been a bit heartbreaking in a way, too. Yes- and now we are seeing Isis gaining power and control and one wonders where that will all end. xo Diana

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    1. Yes, it is so sad to hear about the beheadings and the horrible mistreatment of women perpetrated by ISIS. Those sort of things are not supposed to happen in this day and age...I mean...beheading should have ended with the French Revolution if not before (As far as I'm concerned, it was never a good idea)! Dear Lord Jesus, please come quickly to judge the wicked!

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  4. It's a beautiful place. Seeing the photo of the flood was incredible. THe part that struck me most was the section on the holocaust. It was awful and it astounds me that people try to say it never happened.
    I'm glad you went.

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    1. If I hadn't seen that flooding photo, it would be hard to believe! That area *really* flooded! I'm glad I went as well.

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  5. Interesting post. Interesting place. Cool photos.
    Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

    Have a good week.

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  6. It looks like they cover a fascinating (and tragic) section of history--the traditional outfits would have intrigued me, for sure, I love to look at the clothing of different cultures.

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    1. The outfits are beautiful. I imagine most of the men I know though are happy they do not have to wear the men's costumes--they're a bit of a far cry from today's jeans and tshirts!

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  7. Glad you made the visit - perhaps the $10 helps cover their costs since the museum may not have broad appeal. Great shot at the top btw.

    As for propaganda, I think we are being fed copious amounts today, however, a lot of it is more subtle than that of many decades ago. Of course, "he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says ..." rather than what the world says.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Love all the colorful costumes! My husband grew up in Yankton, SD and a nearby town always had "Czech days" because there was a large population of Czech people living there.

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    1. That would have been neat to see. One of our nearest towns has Sauerkraut Days since the original settlers were mostly German. It's interesting to see people celebrating their heritage.

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  9. Q. What's new at the Museum?
    A. Nothing, but that's the whole idea!

    I love museums and can spend hours soaking in the well presented history in these places.

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  10. What beautiful traditional costumes! How sad to think that there may have been historic artifacts lost in that flood. There has been so much loss due to fires, floods and other natural disasters. Thanks for sharing:)
    Blessings, Aimee

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  11. This is a beautiful place to visit.
    Impressive picture of the flood.
    Have a good new week, Bethany
    Best regards, Irma

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  12. Hello Bethany, it is a nice museum. The flood photo is amazing..I love the traditional clothing display. Thanks for sharing your review and visit. Have a happy Monday and week ahead!

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    1. Thank you Eileen! Have an awesome week as well!

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  13. Thanks for such a great tour and all the lovely images. I love visiting museums. Some are only worth one visit, but they're still enjoyable. "The Holocaust was a dreadful example of inhumanity..." Indeed. It was a horrible time.

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    1. I love history, and often museums are the most enjoyable way of learning more about it.

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  14. Very impressive building with extremely interesting displays. Sad about the flooding. I would gladly pay to help this museum keep going.

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    1. At least our admissions went to a good cause. :)

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  15. Gotta love that chandelier. Where are you, girl? Surely not in the U. S. It sure is pretty whereever it is.

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    1. I live right in the heartland of the U.S.: Iowa. ;)

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  16. Thanks for taking us along on your trip - I almost felt like I was right there with you :) I thoroughly enjoyed the photos and history - thanks, dear Bethany, for sharing.

    Happy Monday to you!

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  17. Hi Bethany, You will know that I'm into history, so this type of visit really appeals to me. I learned a lot in this post. First of all, I would not have expected a National Czech & Slovak Museum to be in Cedar Rapids. I simply did not realize the local community was so strongly composed of people from the Czech and Slovak heritage. When I see your pictures of the museum and then think about my mental picture of Iowa I can now better understand the relationship. For example, your shot of the period living room fits perfectly with my idea of a typical midwest home in that time period ... probably 20s or 30s? Wow, that flood was a disaster. I just moved one small collection room ... can't even imagine moving an entire museum. Thanks for this neat post. John

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    1. I'm sure moving the museum must have been quite the task...I pretty much did a double-take when the receptionist told me that they had moved that building! I just worked for a family helping them pack, and packing their things that was quite an undertaking. Moving the items from your collection room must have been a job! Around where I live there are not many people with a Czech or Slovak heritage: most are Germans. I think the Czechs and Slovaks must have concentrated around the Cedar Rapids area. I'm not sure what time period that living room was from, but a screen playing something about the Second World War was on one wall of that room; so I'm guessing it would be the late 30s or early 40s

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  18. I imagine you are right about the flood maybe being the reason for the lack of original artifacts. If it is true, that is a sad loss. Thanks for bringing me along on your tour. I enjoyed it very much as I will probably never see it in real life. Have a great week, Bethany!

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  19. Bethany the traditional uniforms are simlar to Polish ones. It is possible because we are close neighbours.

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  20. I think just about any museum is worth seeing if reasonably priced. I love spending time learning in that way. It's so interesting to see things in a more "dimensional" view as you learn about them. I found it all very interesting and thank you for sharing it! Happy week ahead dear Gal! xo

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    1. You too, Carrie! You're right; learning history in a museum is often a lot funner than just reading about it.

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  21. Lovely photos, Bethany, and a really fascinating post. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

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  22. Hi again Bethany, I was just looking over my comments and noticed your question about radio. Yes, indeed, I'm KC7JR. By any chance are you into ham radio? Please let me know and thank you for asking! If yes, 73s!!!!! :-)

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    1. Awesome!! I'm KE0BCA. I passed the test last year, but haven't actually gotten around to getting a radio yet. I probably should do that and start putting my studies to good use... ;)

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  23. Well, this looks likes an interesting and informative place to visit! :) I liked looking at the costumes (of course!) - they're very colorful. I'm glad you are able to visit some other free museums with better collections though.

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    1. Yes, I've enjoyed each and every one I've visited.

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  24. I love visiting museums! :) I haven't been to one in several months, though. The traditional outfits look quite nice! I'm quite drawn to them due to the colorfulness of them.

    xoxo Morning

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  25. Even though you were a little disappointed in the museum, I'm glad that you toured it, too, and reviewed some of what you saw for us. I too, especially enjoyed seeing the colorful costumes, and am sorry the holocaust ever happened. I hope warmer weather soon makes its way from Oregon to you :-)

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    1. Thanks Gracie! Your warm wishes are coming true; yesterday was in the 60s and today in the 50s. It has been a very pleasant change.

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  26. I loved all the pictures you took and that is a very beautiful building. You visit the most fascinating places. I really enjoyed seeing those lovely costumes, too... :)

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  27. It is an impressive building and even though much was lost through flooding there is still a lot to see.

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  28. You raise a good point about how much propaganda we're being fed today. I suspect a LOT! And it's not just governments that are feeding us lies with just enough truth to make it sound plausible. TV commercials, ads and billboards. Personally, I think schools ought to be teaching kids to THINK so they can sift through the information intelligently. Okie dokie. I'm now stepping off my soapbox. :))

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    1. I wouldn't mind if your speech went a little longer! I definitely agree with you. A lot of times the schools are feeding children propaganda as well instead of helping them weigh all the propaganda from other sources rationally.

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  29. So sad that the building was almost lost in the flood. They probably need the admission fees to help with restoration. $10 toward that effort seems reasonable. Glad you went. I enjoyed the tour!

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  30. Ten dollars does sound reasonable, considering what they had to go through. I can't believe they were able to move that huge building. I enjoyed your pictures. That chess set is so interesting and sad at the same time.

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    1. It is rather incredible that something that large could be moved!

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  31. Wow I can't believe that flooding was in 2008 - doesn't seem like that long ago!

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  32. I have always enjoyed going to museums , some great photos here!
    The anti-semitic propaganda is very disturbing though!

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    1. Yes, it's very disturbing and sad that all members of people group--so many unique individuals--could be hated so much for no reason other than their genetic background.

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  33. This looks like a very interesting museum to visit. I can understand your being disappointed by the lack of authentic artifacts though. I visited an art museum in Florida once and the highlight for me was seeing an original Norman Rockwell painting! It certainly wouldn't be the same if art museums only displayed prints.

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    1. Norman Rockwell art is neat to see! Glad you were able to see an original! You're right about how prints are replicas are no match for original paintings and artifacts. Good point!

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  34. i know what you mean bethany, i always prefer authenticity, and preserving the historic value of a place like this!!! under the circumstances, i assume that was almost impossible. it looks like a very nice museum!!!

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    1. It must have been a challenge for them to even preserve what they did, but they have made a good comeback considering what they went through.

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  35. Hi Bethany,
    What a lovely place! I liked the photos, particularly for their historical value.
    I have a friend from the former Czech republic with whom I am sharing your post.
    Did you know there is a place called West in Texas, which has a high concentration of Czech descendants? They even have Czech donuts there :)
    May be you will play a tournament there, where you can announce, "Czech Mate", when you make your well thought out, final move :)
    Have a Beautiful Day!
    Peace :)

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    1. Thank you for sharing the post with your friend! I hadn't heard about the area in West Texas with many people of Czech descent. It must be an interesting place to visit. I like your line about chess. :)

      Have an awesome day as well!

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  36. Hello Bethany!:) It's a beautiful building and the foyer is impressive. What a major undertaking to move a whole building! It's a museum with quite a lot of interest, even if some artifacts were not original. Some somber exibits for sure, but the national costumes are pretty, and the ship interesting. It was well worth a visit, and your photos give a very good impression of what you saw.

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  37. All these costumes are so cool, would love to have at least one in my collection :))

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    1. I'm sure they'd look beautiful on you! Would make for a good fashion post!

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