Prague Castle opens exhibition honouring Slovene architect Jože Plečnik

'Plečnik at Prague Castle'

A new exhibition focusing on Slovene architect Jože Plečnik has opened at Prague Castle, the Czech capital’s iconic landmark that Plečnik himself had a big role in reconstructing. The exhibit, located both within the Old Palace building and the wider Castle complex, marks the 150th anniversary of Plečnik’s birth.

No other architect left as big a mark on Prague Castle in recent history as Jože Plečnik. Although he moved to Prague already in 1911, his most famous designs would be constructed in the Czech capital after the end of World War I and the birth of the independent Czechoslovak Republic.

'Plečnik at Prague Castle' | Photo: Prague Castle Administration

During the 1920s and 1930s, Plečnik was in charge of reconstructing Prague Castle, which had become the seat of the Czechoslovak head of state since the proclamation of the republic in 1918. Several of the Castle’s courtyards, as well as the private study of first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, were designed by the Slovene architect, who also partially redesigned the building’s famous Spanish Hall.

The chief curator of the exhibition, architecture historian Vladimír Šlapeta, told Czech Radio that the anniversary of Plečnik’s birth served as a call to organise an exhibition that would remind people of the Slovene architect’s work and legacy.

“We worked together with our colleagues from Slovenia on this exhibition and the opportunity arose to hold it in Prague Castle’s Old Palace building, which is a beautiful structure. At the same time, visitors will be able to see Plečnik’s work ‘in the flesh’ so to say, with accompanying explanatory panels.”

'Plečnik at Prague Castle' | Photo: Prague Castle Administration

Visitors will come across seventeen panels which offer case studies of how the first and third courtyards of Prague Castle changed over time and the redesign that Plečnik implemented.

The exhibition in the Old Palace building itself is made up of three layers. There are building models both from the Prague Castle collection and the collection of the Museum of Architecture in Ljubljana. Visitors will also be able to see the models that were developed for the 1986 Centre Pompidou exhibition in Paris, which helped restart interest in the architect’s work.

Plečnik's viewpoint with pyramid in South gardens of Prague Castle | Photo: Jolana Nováková,  Czech Radio

The aim of the curators was to focus the exhibition around three of the key creative periods in Plečnik’s life. First, his early work in Vienna, where he moved in 1892 and studied under one of the leading architects of the Vienna Secession movement Otto Wagner.

There is also focus on Plečnik’s life and work in Prague itself, where he moved in 1911 to work as a professor at the Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design (Umprum).

Finally, the exhibition also depicts Plečnik’s latter life, when he served as professor of architecture at the University of Ljubljana and, at the same time, was the official architect at Prague Castle.

The chief curator of the exhibition says that among the exhibits are also original photographs detailing Plečnik’s iconic design of the National and University Library of Slovenia in his hometown of Ljubljana.

The Prague Castle exhibition is open to the public daily from 10am to 6pm until October 31.

Authors: Thomas McEnchroe , Alena Rokosová
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