National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
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Past Exhibits


Self Portrait (1899)
Self Portrait (1899)
© Mucha Trust 2012
Self Portrait (1899)[5]Madonna of the Lilies (1905)[5]Princesse Lointaine (1900)[5]The Primrose (1899)[5]

Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau


Paintings, lithographs, sketches, photographs and sculptures, directly from the Mucha Foundation in Prague and London, was the first exhibit in the Jiruska Gallery after the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library’s grand opening. Not since 1999 had an exhibit of this size and caliber appeared in the United States and it was the first of its type to appear in the Midwest region.

This opportunity to view the lush beauty of Mucha's flowing elegant work, recognized by people all over the world, was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for many. Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau was divided into six sections and explored Mucha not just as the father of Art Nouveau, but also Mucha's Moravian roots, his family, his photography and his devotion to the Slav people. The exhibit ENDED December 31, 2012.

Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) is best known for his illustrations and poster art used as advertisements for shows in Paris. In fact, Mucha’s move to Paris in his late twenties transformed his entire career. In Paris, he created magazine and advertising illustrations, living a modest life until he designed a lithographed poster for a play featuring the most famous actress in Paris at the time, Sarah Bernhardt. The poster attracted attention—even Bernhardt took notice and placed him on contract for six years.


© Mucha Trust 2012

More than a painter, Mucha also created deigns for jewelry, carpets and wallpaper. What was  deemed the “Mucha Style” soon turned into something greater—“Art Nouveau.” Many of Mucha’s works depict young females in flowing dresses and robes, surrounded by jewels and lush flowers. Mucha used paler pastel colors with expertly used pops of color.

Ronald F. Lipp describes the females in Mucha’s work—the Mucha Woman: “She beckons us hypnotically with some inexpressible yet compelling vision, some unspoken promise—wholesome, alluring, uplifting and erotically vulnerable. Her gaze is half-focused, as if she is herself emerging, posed at the moment of awakening, suspended between her loving viewer and some faintly remembered image of another world. Her allure is often heightened by her tresses which spill luxuriantly, perhaps windblown or disheveled, forming a halo surrounding her face."

Though he attained fame during his lifetime, Mucha became frustrated with the public’s demand for commercial art. Although he produced everything from graphic art for menus to advertisements for Nestlé, he wanted to produce art of his own accord instead of something commissioned.

In Sarah Mucha’s book, Alphonse Mucha: Celebrating the Creation of the Mucha Museum, Prague, Petr Wittlich, Professor of Art History at Charles University, Prague, described Mucha’s journey: “From the time of his youthful enthusiasm, throughout the period of his fame in Paris and ultimately to his realization of how an understanding of history can shape the destiny of a nation, Alphonse Mucha’s lasting concern remains the necessity of combining beauty and goodness.”

©Mucha Trust 2012

It All Comes Out in the Wash


Beautifully embellished textiles from the museum's extensive collection were featured in this exhibition, It All Comes Out in the Wash. Each piece in this exhibit was damaged in the flood of 2008 and painstakingly restored at the Chicago Conservation Center. This unique exhibition showed the beauty of the treasured textiles and the extensive work that brought them back to their original splendor.

About 25 kroje (folk costumes), plus many other examples of decorated textiles were on exhibit once again. Visitors were thrilled and surprised at the vibrant colors and quality of the pieces.



Artists Caught Behind the Iron Curtain: The Freeman Collection

Czechoslovakia in the 1960s: oppressive Communist rule. Artists struggling to make ends meet. Insert college student Lee Freeman who became their lifeline to receptive audiences in the West. Thus began Freeman's life-long passion collecting contemporary Czech art.

More than 40 works from Freeman's world-renowned collection are featured in the exhibit, "Artists Caught Behind the Iron Curtain: The Freeman Collection," at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, which opened on Saturday, January 19, 2013.

Freeman, art-enthusiast and Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic for the State of Montana, sold many paintings in the United States and to private collectors, prestigious galleries and museums around the world. He then sent the profits to the artists and supplied them with paints and other banned materials.

Exhibit closed April 28, 2013.

Untitled, Otakar Slavík (1968)

Prague 1968: Photographs by Paul Goldsmith

© 1968 Paul Goldsmith
  Dramatic photographs of the Warsaw Pact invasion by a then 19-year-old college student from the United States. Goldsmith, fleeing the Soviet soldiers who were confiscating and destroying cameras, captured the end of the Prague Spring. Some of these rare photos were sold to the Associated Press and distributed worldwide.
For more information, visit the Paul Goldsmith Photography website:
Exhibit closed June 2, 2013.

Bobbins, Bows & Beads

Beautifully embellished Czech & Slovak textiles from our collection, including Bobbin lace, colorful bows and beaded items, were the focus of this exhibit. Fourteen full kroje (folk costumes) joined other embroidered and leather pieces in the intricate display. Bobbins, Bows & Beads closed on June 30, 2013.

Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection

Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection featured more than 280 dazzling pins Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wore to emphasize the importance of a negotiation, signify high hopes, protest the absence of progress, and show pride in representing the United States.

Matched with her personal anecdotes and photographs, the pins range from dime store finds to family heirlooms and designer creations. The exhibition explores the collection’s historic significance as well as the expressive power of jewelry to communicate through a style and language of its own.

This traveling exhibit was on display May 11 through October 27, 2013 at the NCSML, organized by the Museum of Arts and Design. Support for the exhibition was provided by Bren Simon and by St. John Knits for the exhibition book.

Special thanks to the following sponsors, whose philanthropic support made the Read My Pins exhibition and accompanying events possible at the NCSML:
Dr. Margaret Haupt
Robert F., Janis L., Dr. Kimberly K. and Korlin K. Kazimour
Gary and Cathy Rozek
CRST International
St. Luke's Hospital

Exhibit closed Oct. 27, 2013.

Written In The Czech Landscape


Written in the Czech Landscape is a retrospective of Czech landscape studies carried out from 2003 to 2009 by graduate students at Penn State University.

Sponsored through the Department of Landscape Architecture at Penn State, students and faculty in the university's summer academic programs collaborated with a variety of Czech agencies to study growth and development impacts on heritage sites.

While reports, meeting records and presentations were the program's primary outcome, program participants also formed profound impressions of Czech places and people. The images in this exhibit express the connections to and insights about the many inspiring landscapes that were studied and visited.

The multimedia exhibition includes photographs, drawings, collages and design plans. Written in the Czech landscape will be on display in the NCSML's Smith Gallery through March 23, 2014.Exhibit closed March 2014.