Three of the most valued archaeological objects ever found on Czech territory have gone on exhibit in Prague‘s National Museum. Among them is the oldest ceramic object in the world, the roughly 30, 000-year-old Venus of Dolní Věstonice. They are part of a country-wide exhibition commemorating the 200th anniversary of the founding of the first Czech museum.
On Monday afternoon trucks escorted by heavily armed police stopped in front of the National Museum building in central Prague and unloaded three of the greatest ancient archaeological treasures the Czech Republic has to offer.
First, the Venus of Dolní Věstonice, then a rarely preserved head of a stone statue of an ancient Celtic warrior, known to the Czechs simply as “Celtic head”, and a group of 18,000-year-old meteorites found at a Palaeolithic settlement in Silesia. After a brief opening ceremony the exhibit was opened to the public the next day. Michal Stehlík, the National Museum’s deputy director in charge of exhibitions, explains.
“These three objects are from the three major museums in the Czech republic: Opava, Brno and Prague’s National Museum. It is a celebration of the 200 years since the first museum was founded in the Czech Republic which wasn‘t the National Museum but the regional museum in Opava. In 2017, celebrations will be held in Brno [whose museum was founded 1817] and finally, in 2018 it will be here in Prague [founded in 1818].
“It will be a unique chance to see these three exhibits together. Although the Celtic head was featured in our previous exhibitions, having all three of these objects in one place together is a one in a hundred years chance, I think.”
The exhibition also puts the country in a European historical context, as a territory in the centre of the continent where many different peoples lived and crossed throughout the ages, whether the Cro-Magnons, who are thought to be the makers of the Venus statue, or the Celts who gave Bohemia its name.
The exhibition has been drawing visitors from the Czech Republic and abroad. I asked some of them why they came to see the artefacts. This man came from Austria:
“My wife told me about it and I looked it up on the internet and saw this was an interesting woman [Venus statue]. So we hope to see her and make her acquaintance.”
Another woman was visiting from Spain:
Was that the Particular reason why you went to the museum?
And which one of those exhibits did you like the most?
“I think the Venus because it was the oldest.”
In view of the 200-year anniversary I asked Mr Stehlík how successful museums have been in the Czech Republic, given the fact that in the past, they often served communist ideology.
“I think these past years have been better for visitors, for society and for the museums as well. I think that we don‘t have such a strong tradition of connection between museums, culture and society like in Germany and Britain.
“We have a little problem there. We must create more activities and communicate with our society because the support from the Czech state and the region is not as good as in western Europe.”