Place: Veletržní Palace
On the evening ofAugust 14, 1974, a devastating fire broke out in theVeletržníPalace. All the shops and foreign trade companies located in the building had stored their paper documents and archives there. Moreover, the inside (more than 60%) of the palace was divided up by cardboard partition walls to create small offices and storage. All of this was ideal fodder for the fire, which nearly destroyed one of the most beautiful functionalist structures in central Europe.
It took several days to extinguish the fire and several more months to discuss what to do with the skeleton of the building dating back to 1925–1929. Opinion ranged from supporting total demolition to advocating reconstruction that would have given rise to a new shopping or business centre for Prague 7.
A decision was made in 1980 to give the skeleton building to the National Gallery in Pragueand restore it as modern and contemporary art exhibition premises and central repositories. This decision marked the beginning of the new history of the Veletržní palace and, de facto, of the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. It is no exaggeration that the decision still greatly impacts the activities of the collection as well as when and how artists and artworks may be exhibited.
The project dedicated to the anniversary of the Veletržní palace fire suggests that the National Gallery sees this structure in a complex way, as a key exhibition space of the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, taking into account how the building dictates the projects and exhibitions organized within its walls and the very mechanism of the structure’s operation.
The project consists of several interconnected exhibitions and independent events.
o The Story of the Veletržní Palace
Curators: Radomíra Sedláková, Jakub Potůček; opening March 20.
o The Veletržní Palace Fire in Photographs
Curator: Helena Musilová; opening August 14.
o Jiří Sozanský
Curator: Jiří T. Kotalík; October.
• Additional exhibitions – Great Artworks for aGreatBuilding
o Zdeněk Fránek – architectural installation
o Veronika Richterová – installation of PET material
• Panel discussions about future exhibitions of 20th- and 21st-century art in theVeletržníPalace
Sponsors: Ladislav Kesner, Helena Musilová
• The Macro and Outside Context – theVeletržníPalaceas a tourist destination
o How should exhibitions and programs in theVeletržníPalacefulfil the mission of the National Gallery inPrague? Whom are they targeting?
• Centre – Logistics of permanent exhibitions, target groups
o What is the basic aim of exhibitions? Is it still to present “a history” of Czech modern art or a radically different, non-historical form of art presentation? What are the lessons to be learned from foreign institutions?
• Micro – structure, architectural layout, accompanying activities
o What options exist for configuring theVeletržníPalacepremises for exhibitions? What are the ideal options for contextualizing artworks in the permanent exhibitions in theVeletržníPalace?
• Conference and workshop – The future of the Veletržní palace
Sponsor: Jakub Potůček
A presentation of the visions of young architects in cooperation with university and college schools of architecture.
Video mapping:August 14, 2014– the anniversary of the fire