Prague to get its first Roma center next year

Center of the Roma and Sinti will be located in a 1930s villa in Prague’s Dejvice district

A new Center of the Roma and Sinti in Prague, the first of its kind in the Czech capital, is set to open next year. The institution will focus on Romani history, as well as on its spiritual and material culture. Organisers hope that the center will also offer an opportunity to discuss contemporary questions of Czech-Romany cohabitation.

The new institution will be located in a 1930s villa in Prague’s Dejvice district. The building is currently in the process of being renovated after a redesign conducted by the progressive architecture studio Adam Rujbr Architects.

The head of the centre, Dr Olga Vlčková, says that it will operate as a sub-branch of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno.

“It is expected to open sometime in the autumn of 2023. Right now, we are working on the multi-functional hall, which will feature a rich programme of topics associated with the Romani community.”

The hall will be able to accommodate 50 guests and will be located partially underground so as to preserve the villa’s gardens. The inside spaces of the building will also feature a café and, on the upper floor, a 120 square meter exhibition space.

Although the villa is getting a significant redesign, much of the interior furniture will remain authentic to its First Republic roots, the architects told Czech Radio.

Lety u Písku holocaust memorial | Photo: Jana Šustová,  Radio Prague International

Aside from hosting events and exhibitions, the villa will also serve as a Roma community centre, where members of the minority will be able to meet, organise various activities and make use of its library. According to the head of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, Jana Horváthová, one of the primary aims of the new centre will be to hold debates on cohabitation.

Aside from the Centre of the Roma and Sinti in Prague, next year will also see the opening of the Roma Holocaust Memorial in Lety, located on the vicinity of a former Nazi labour camp.  Dr Vlčková says that in the more immediate time horizon, there are also other events that the centre has on offer.

“We are preparing an exhibition which will focus on the Roma holocaust. I would also like to point out that Praguers can already visit an exhibition on Romani art titled ‘Phundrado Drom/Open Road’ which is taking place at the Ethnographic Museum in the Kinský Garden and will be open until next year.”

Those interested in celebrating International Romani Day this Friday can also visit Prague’s Archa Theatre where several of the country’s leading Roma musicians will be performing under this year’s theme focusing on the minority’s proud cultural heritage.