Gloria Musaealis awards usher in nationwide Festival of Museum Nights

'First Republic 1918 – 1938', photo: Markéta Kachlíková

The annual nationwide Festival of Museum Nights, during which museums and cultural institutions around the country organize special events and late-night opening hours for visitors, is traditionally preceded by a gala ceremony at which the Czech Association of Museums and Galleries hands out Gloria Musaealis awards in different categories. The award ceremony took place in Prague’s Municipal House on Thursday night and carried a special significance for the winners.

In the course of the next three weeks 517 museums and cultural institutions in 158 Czech towns and cities will open their doors to the public on a selected night, showing off the best they have to offer and organizing special events to pull the crowd. The award ceremony that precedes the festival is a pointer to “la crème de la crème” –the cultural institutions that offer visitors an exceptional experience and hold a mark of superiority, at the given time at least.

The prizes awarded are for Best Exhibit, Best Publication and Best Enterprise. The Czech branch of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) also hands out a special prize for an exhibit, publication or enterprise which transcends the Czech cultural scene and is suitable for showing abroad.

'First Republic 1918 – 1938',  photo: Markéta Kachlíková
The Gloria Musaealis award for Best Exhibit for 2018 went to the Olomouc Museum of Art for its exposition Years of Disarray 1908 -1928 which documents avant-garde art from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the first years of independent Czechoslovakia, born in 1918.

The special prize selected by the Czech branch of ICOM for an exhibit, publication or enterprise which transcends the Czech cultural scene went to the Prague National Gallery for its exhibition documenting art in the years of the First Republic 1918 – 1938.

It did not escape public notice that these are two institutions whose heads were recently dismissed by the culture minister for alleged poor management. The curators of the two exhibitions said they hoped this recognition would contribute to mending their unfairly tarnished reputation.

The award for Best Enterprise went to the National Technical Museum in Prague for putting the veteran “presidential” train back on the rail tracks in celebration of the centenary of Czechoslovakia’s birth. The veteran locomotive and carriages used by Archduke Franz Ferdinand d'Este and a number of Czechoslovak presidents covered 4,000 km around the Czech Republic and Slovakia and was viewed by over 100,000 people last year.

And finally the award for Best Publication went to the Museum of Romany Culture for its publication Amendar: introducing Roma personalities.

The Festival of Museum Nights, which opens in the West Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary on Friday night will continue in Brno on Saturday. The city of Prague which has 52 museums and galleries is at the end of the marathon with Prague Museum Night scheduled for June 8th.