Welcome to Czechs in History. This time Alena Skodova takes us through the life of I'll Vojtech Lanna, entrepreneur, patron of the arts and avid collector, and the founder of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.
The Lanna family came to Bohemia from Austria, at the beginning of the 18th century, to import salt. They settled in the south of the country, in the town of Ceske Budejovice. They soon settled into their new home, and started up a wide range of businesses, earning them a historical description as the father founders of Czech entrepreneurial activity. Vojtech Lanna senior, who lived in the first half of the 19th century, is often described as the Czechs' first self-made man. Dr Helena Koenigsmarkova, director of the Museum of Applied Arts in Prague: So that was the father of Vojtech Lanna junior, whom I'll be talking about today. Did young Vojtech continue in his father's small-business footsteps? Both Lannas were known as patrons of the arts - did Vojtech inherit his taste for collecting from his father? I thought that as a keen collector, Vojtech Lanna junior must have travelled to exotic countries, outside Europe. But that was not the case: The number of items gradually grew and it soon became the core of a collection which Lanna donated - on his 70th birthday - to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague. In 1901 the Museum moved from its provisional premises in the Rudolfinum to a new building near the Jewish Town. In the new, spacey building there were separate exhibition halls for ceramics, glass, gold, base metals and furniture. Vojtech Lanna's donation consisted of more than a thousand glass items, ranging from antiquity to the beginning of the 19th century. Lanna loved museums and himself was a member of all the important institutions which were in one way or another involved in collecting and displaying artistic objects. Vojtech Lanna was one of those personalities in Czech cultural history who have - despite their great merits - never become widely known. Dr. Koenigsmarkova explained why: