Visitors invited to Václav Havel office

Former First Lady Dagmar Havlová in Václav Havel’s office, photo: CTK

People from all over the world will soon have a chance to visit the office of the late Czech president Václav Havel. Although the office won’t open its door to the public, it will be accessible on-line. Next Monday, the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation Vize 97 will launch a virtual tour of the space, where Mr Havel worked for the last eight years of his life.

Former First Lady Dagmar Havlová in Václav Havel’s office,  photo: CTK
I spoke to Vangelis Zingopis of the Vize 97 Foundation and first asked him about the idea behind the virtual tour:

“When the president passed away in 2011 we wanted to maintain the unique premises which he himself helped to create together with the architect Bořek Šípek.

“But the main reason is to enable the entire world to come and visit all the areas of Václav Havel’s office including all the details such as awards, photographs and gifts that enhance the atmosphere of the place where Mr Havel spent the last eight years of his life.”

You said you wanted to preserve the office as it was. Does it mean it remained untouched since Mr Havel passed away eight years ago?

“Yes, exactly. It is in the same condition as on the last day when Mr Havel was there.”

You have already mentioned the main architect Bořek Šípek who also designed Václav Havel’s office at Prague Castle. Can you tell me more about the premises?

Václav Havel,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“Also other artists helped to create this wonderful place, for instance Olbram Zoubek and Aleš Lamr. The office is situated in Schwarzenberg palace in Voršilská street and Mr President had worked their since he left the Prague Castle in 2003. So many important meetings took place there and many people visited this office, so we really wanted to keep it for the next generation.”

You are now digitalising the objects from the office. Can you mention at least a few?

“There is for instance a gift by His Holiness Dalai Lama, which was given to Mr Havel just a few days before he passed away, when he met with His Holiness for the last time.

“Also another wonderful object is a rare Buddhist tapestry, and there is a number of other prizes, diplomas and other interesting objects.”

As far as I know the tour will be charged. What will you use the money for?

“The tour of the first room of the office will be free of charge, including the objects. If the visitors want to continue the tour, they will be asked to pay 2.99 euros or 80 crowns. This money will be used for improving the application and for capturing and digitising other items.”

You also presented a second in a series of medals issued in commemoration of Havel. Can you tell me more about that project?

Medal by Olbram Zoubek,  photo: CTK
“Last year, we launched a new project with our partner, the Czech mint, to issue seven unique medals by seven Czech artists. Last year, on December 18, we presented the first one by architect Bořek Šípek. The second one by Olbram Zoubek, was presented yesterday.

“This year we will present another two medals by Kurt Gebauer and Jiří David and next year another three, by Jaroslav Róna, Aleš Lamr and David Černý.”

The tour will be available at as of April 6.