Writer Bohumil Hrabal’s holiday home to be turned into exhibition space

Hrabal's country home in Kersko

The holiday home of the late Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal in Kersko, just 30 kilometres east of Prague, could soon be turned into an exhibition space. Plans for its use were presented on Monday by representatives of the Central Bohemian Region and the museum of Polabí.

Earlier this year, the former summer house of the famous Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal appeared on a real estate website for sale for nearly 12 million crowns.

Soon after, the Ministry of Culture, along with the regional government of Central Bohemia, announced its plan to buy the house from a private owner, Hrabal’s former neighbours.

The purchase has already been approved by the town’s councillors and if everything goes according to plan, the purchase contract could be signed in December.

This Monday, regional councillor for culture Václav Švenda unveiled some of the plans for the future exposition dedicated to the famous writer:

Bohumil Hrabal | Photo: Hana Hamplová,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 3.0

“We expect that it will be necessary to build a multifunctional building on the site with facilities for visitors, and a space for resident writers and translators. It will also serve for workshops, and various trainings or lectures.”

The minimalist white house with green painted window panes stands in the middle of a picturesque cottage settlement of Kersko, in rural landscape along the Elbe River.

The famous writer bought the house in 1965 and over the years, it served as a refuge not only for him, but also for the seventeen semi-wild cats that he fed.

The flat area covered with pine and birch woodlands played a major role in Hrabal’s work. Neighbours from Kersko say it served him as a model for the book The Snowdrop Festival, which was later made into a film by Oscar-winning director Jiří Menzel.

The film was shot directly on the site of Kersko and featured not only the local Hájenka restaurant but also some of Hrabal’s real-life neighbours.

Václav Vinduška, director of the Museum of Polabí, says the future exposition in Hrabal’s former holiday home should highlight not only the life and work of the famous writer but also the legendary cottage settlement itself:

Hájenka restaurant,  Kersko | Photo: Jaroslav Skalický,  Czech Radio

“We don’t want to create a traditional exhibition. We want it to serve as a reminder of the place where Hrabal wrote many of his works. And of course, we would also like to have an outdoor exhibition dedicated to the Kersko cottage settlement.”

The exhibition will feature Hrabal’s personal objects, including his typewriter and bicycle. It will also make use of so-called augmented reality. Using their mobile phones, visitors will be able to see what the interior looked like when Hrabal lived there.

The new exhibition in Bohumil Hrabal’s former summer house should be completed by the year 2024, but visitors will have a chance to see the cottage already in February next year, on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the writer’s death.

Authors: Ruth Fraňková , Markéta Šulejová
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