Dvořák archive and Moll Map Collection added to UNESCO list

The Moll Map Collection

Two valuable documentary collections from Czechia have been inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register: the Antonín Dvořák Archive, which contains most of the great Czech composer’s manuscripts and the Moll Map Collection, a set of ancient maps dating from the late 16th century to the 1860s.

Among the 64 new entries on the UNESCO list of world documentary treasures approved by the organisation’s executive board is the Archive of Antonín Dvořák.

Antonín Dvořák | Photo: jockrutherford,  Flickr,  CC BY-SA 2.0

The valuable collection contains not only the manuscripts of the greatest of Czech composers, his best known works, but also his personal items, such as his letters and books, explains Veronika Vejvodová from the Dvořák Museum in Prague, which is in charge of the items:

“The core of the archive are Dvořák’s manuscripts, but we also have his correspondence and personal documents, the composer’s personal library and photographs, as well as printed documentation, such as programmes and posters.

Dvořák’s manuscript,  Muzeum of Antonín Dvořák in Prague | Photo: Kristýna Maková,  Radio Prague International

“What makes it unique is that it’s a personal archive of a very important Czech composer and we have about 90 percent of the original musical manuscripts of his compositions, including Dvořák’s operas, symphonies, symphonic poems and chamber works.”

From the exhibition 'Dirty pleaseures' by Antonín Dvořák,  National Museum - Antonín Dvořák Museum | Photo: Eliška Vidomus,  Czech Radio

Starting this September, visitors to the Antonín Dvořák Museum in Prague will have a rare chance to see some of the valuable items from the archives, says Mrs. Vejvodová:

“Some of them will be displayed as of this September at our museum. We will be displaying one original manuscript for the duration of one month, before changing it for another. The entire exhibition will run for one year.”

Regnum Bohemia  (1630-1706),  the Moll Collection | Photo: Moravská zemská knihovna Brno

The other documentary heritage entry that made it to the UNESCO list is the Moll Collection, an atlas collected in the 1740s and 1750s by the German diplomat and cartographer Bernhard Paul Moll.

It includes thousands of maps of cities and landscapes as well as a number of drawings representing mines and ancient monuments and ranks among the few large historical map collections in Central Europe, which have been preserved in its entirety until today, explains Jindra Pavelková from the Moravian Library in Brno:

Obsidio Taboris in Bohemia Anno 1648,  the Moll Map Collection | Photo: Moravská zemská knihovna Brno

“Bernhard Moll was a private collector. When he went on a trip as a diplomat, he would visit antique shops and buy whatever he found interesting.

“The whole collection has 12, 774 items and the easiest way to see it is to visit our website, where the entire set of maps is digitized.

“What’s more, we also put the maps into a wider context, so people can find out more about the history of the collection and learn about other interesting facts.”

Together with the newly added items, Czechia currently boasts ten entries on the UNESCO Memory of the World list, including the Libri Prohibiti, a collection of periodicals of Czech and Slovak Samizdat from the communist era, the Kynžvart daguerreotype from 1839 or the archive of the great Czech composer Leoš Janáček.