Czechast With Julia T. Bailey, new director of Galerie Rudolfinum

Julia Tatiana Bailey

"I am here to stay," says Julia Tatiana Bailey, new director of Galerie Rudolfinum, one of the Prague's leading art venues.

Photo: Galerie Rudolfinum

Rudolfinum is a place where history and culture intertwine like the intricate melodies of a Dvořák symphony. This grand building, with its neo-Renaissance flair, was constructed between 1876 and 1884, by Česká spořitelna - the Czech Savings Banks. It was built as an art museum and a concert hall. Designed by architects Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz, the Rudolfinum was named in honor of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and has been a beacon of culture and art in Prague for over a century.

Originally built to promote art and music, it was part of a grand plan to celebrate the Czech lands' cultural revival. But when Czechoslovakia gained independence and a building was needed for its new parliament, Rudolfinum was selected. It served as a Chamber of Deputies or the lower house of the Czechoslovak parliament between 1918 and 1939. When Germany occupied Czechoslovakia they dissolved the parliament. So, the functional and artistic rehabilitation of the Rudolfinum was brought about–somewhat paradoxically–by the years of World War II. Ever since its end then it has been the home for the Czech Philharmonic and Galerie Rudolfinum.

Now this eminent Prague venue for visual art has a British born, educated and trained dirctor: Julie Tatiana Bailey, a PhD-qualified art historian, specialising in the visual culture of the Cold War, and the relationship between art, state politics and movements for civil rights and independence. With experience of work for institutions like London's Tate Modern and the National Gallery Prague, Julia likes the the possibilities Garlie Rudolfinum offers:

Julia Tatiana Bailey | Photo: Vít Pohanka,  Radio Prague International

"Here, I can see the results here more quickly. I feel that I am making a contribution, kind of leave my signature. There also a sense of collaboration with the people here and we are building something together. I like that feeling of seeing the results and moving things forward."

Julia also plans closer cooperation with the Czecha Philharmonic. In spring of this year there will be solo up to a quartet concerts of its players directly in the Gallery. The musicians are encoureged to select works that resonate with the exhibitions on display:

"I have been refering to the 'Rudolfinum family' quite a lot in the last few weeks. I think it is really important that we work together to make this a kind of cultural destination. Ideally, I would love people to come and visit the Gallery and then go on to a concert and get a sort of rounded cultural experience".

To hear more about Julia T. Bailey's background, her journey to curatorship and ideas for future of the visual arts in the time of social networks, listen to this episode of Czechast.

Author: Vít Pohanka
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  • Czechast

    Czechast is a regular RPI podcast about Czech and Moravian culture, history, and economy.