On Friday, Expo 2015 gets underway in Italy’s Milan and the Czech pavilion is ready to open its door to the public. The main theme this year is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” When I spoke to Expo’s Czech commissioner, Jiří František Potužník, I started by asking how this theme was reflected in the Czech exhibition:
“We decided two years ago that we wouldn’t beat Italian pasta with Czech dumplings. So we decided to bring Czech patents and innovations which are linked with the main theme to show that Czech scientists are very unique and competitive in the context of the whole world.
“So we will bring examples of nanotechnologies purifying water without energy or infrastructure, the gene codes of plants discovered by Czech scientists, we will present a unique project by the Prague zoo focused on the preservation of certain species of animals around the world.”
What are the main highlights for the foreign visitors coming to the Czech pavilion?
“We have one magnet permanently on display at the national part of the exhibition. This is the only known fragment of the Dalimil chronicle made in northern Italy in the 14th century for the king Charles the Fourth.
“We believe that it is going to attract mainly Italian visitors, because it shows that the relations between the Czech Republic and Italy, especially northern Italy, are extremely good and they have had a long tradition.”
The Italian media have listed the Czech pavilion among the five most interesting places which the visitors should see. What exactly did they highlight?
“The Italian media noticed that the main theme of Expo 2015 is reflected even in the way the Czech pavilion is designed. We brought a modular building, which is very easy to construct and after the expo closes, it can be dismantled and used for other purposes somewhere else. So we have a pavilion with a hundred percent efficiency and zero ecological impact.
“They also mention that Expo has always been a platform for science, industry and culture, and this is exactly what the Czech exhibition is based on.”
Finally, when talking about the Czech pavilion, we shouldn’t forget beer. Can you tell me more about the Beer Gate project?
“Actually the Beer Gate is a joint project with Ireland, whose pavilion is located just in front of the Czech one. We would like to offer visitors, in an international premiere, a Pilsner drafted directly from tanks.
“I guess that people living in the Czech Republic are familiar with that, but in Italy, it is something largely unknown. We believe that if we are able to present the unique drafting of beer, we will attract even those who prefer wine.
“We are hoping to change drinking habits in Northern Italy, so that after Expo 2015, people will drink Czech beer instead of Italian wine.”