ARCHIVE OF NEWSLETTERS
DIGNITY AND ADORNMENT” TEXTILE TREASURES FROM BOHEMIAN AND MORAVIAN
the early Middle Ages, Prague has been one of the most important Jewish
centres in central Europe. Jewish religious life centred around its
many synagogues, whose rich inventories were enriched by valuable donations
that were presented as an expression of piety. Some of these donations
were of exceptional value and many have been preserved to this day.
The items of most value and interest can now be viewed at this newly
bulk of the Museum’s unique holdings, including its synagogue textiles,
were sent here during World War II as confiscated property from Bohemia
and Moravian Jewish communities. Most Bohemian and Moravian Jews died
as a result of Nazi persecu- tion; their memory is recalled only by
ritual objects, rare items that document the age-old tradition of Jewish
culture. Textiles from this part of the collection are also amply represented
in the exhibition.
its entirety, the textile collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague,
which has never before been presented systematically, is unique in a
world context. It is unique for its size, for the age and quality of
the items it contains and, above all, for the fact that it comes exclusively
from Bohemia and Moravia and constitutes a continuous whole in the development
of textiles from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries
exhibition in the Imperial Stables, Prague Castle, features a total
of 138 items, comprising 44 curtains, 85 Torah mantles, 6 valances and
3 covers for the reading-desks in synagogues. For reasons of space,
it would not have been possible to display these textiles to such an
extent in the Museum’s permanent exhibitions. Likewise, a representative
selection of items of such artistic and cultural-historical value could
not have been presented here.
terms of craftsmanship, textiles that employ silver and gold thread
or fresh-water pearls are of particular interest. Of exceptional historical
value is the set of textiles from the period of Rudolf II, which are
decorated with appliquéd Renaissance motifs. Among the exhibits is the
earliest preserved Torah curtain in the Museum; this was made by the
famous master embroiderer of Prague, Solomon Perl-sticker who donated
it to the Old-New Synagogue in 1592.
exhibition also documents the quality of Jewish calligraphy and ornament.
The motifs, symbols and compositions that appear on synagogue textiles
can also be found, for example, on tombstones in Jewish cemeteries.
This reflects their profound importance and proves that they have been
with the Jewish nation for centuries and have been an integral part
of its culture fromthe very beginning.
the preparation of such am ambitious project took several years of preparation,
during which time attention became focused on the restoration of select
pieces. Both the Museum’s textile restoration workshop and a large group
of external restorers were involved in this process. The exhibi-tion
curator is Dr. Ludmila Kybalová, the previous Director of the Jewish
Museum in Prague (1990 to 1994).
is plenty of available information on this exhibition. Basic details
are provided on the Museum’s website.
interactive CD ROM (“Synagogue Textiles”) has been released for visitors
and for those who cannot get to the exhibition in person; this was prepared
under the guidance of the Museum’s textile curator Dana Veselská and
is available in five languages – English, Czech, German, French and
Italian. With experts in mind, a large English catalogue of the Museum’s
textile collection (“Synagogue Textiles”) has been published for the
exhibition. This contains scholarly texts and provides detailed information
on a thousand carefully selected textiles. For more information visit
the Museum’s website. Without a doubt, the most attractive thing about
both the CD ROM and the catalogue are the large full-colour illustrations.
A 27 minute documentary on the Museum and its textile collection has
also been prepared on the occasion of the exhibition. This is available
in Czech and English on videocassette and is directed by Irena Pavlásková.
The catalogue, CD ROM and videocassette can be ordered COD from the Jewish Museum in Prague at U Staré školy 1, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic or via the Internet.
The exhibition was undertaken with the generous financial
support of The Project Judaica Foundation, Carosso, and LLC Fine Art,
New York . The Museum believes that the Prague show will be followed
by a series of touring exhibitions in the US and Israel. The Prague
show, which ran until 6 April 2003, was prepared by Michaela Hájková,
curator of the Museum’s fine art collection, in association with the
A 120-page bilingual Czech-English catalogue has been published for the exhibition. The catalogue contains an introductory text (by M. Hájková) about the desert projects, in addition to original texts by Aleš Veselý himself and numerous illustra-tions of his work . It may be ordered COD from the Jewish Museum in Prague at U Staré školy 1, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic or via the Internet
OPENING OF ARCHIVES
REPAIRS TO THE PINKAS SYNAGOGUE
Dampness in the synagogue is being reduced on an
ongoing basis by means of artificial condensation. Revolving ventilation
fans are being used for air circulation and the temperature is being
kept stable by the use of oil-filled radiators with thermostats. This
has limited further deterioration of the damaged elements to a minimum.
The flood-ing brought about changes to the internal quali-ties of the
brickwork and led to increased traces of salts, which have made their
way to the surface of the walls on which are inscribed the names of
Shoah victims. Externally, the inscriptions have been at risk from organic
alluvia, which have brought about the tissue growth of microorganisms.
In accordance with the recommendations of experts, art academy graduate
Michaela Poková carried out checks on the state of the wall inscriptions
and preventative and technical measures connected with rehabilitation.
Filtered paper has been applied to the damaged inscriptions
with the aim of limiting the occurrence of soils in the upper plaster-coated
layers of inscriptions and, at the same time, of preventing soluble
salts coming through to the surface. Salts that have dissolved in this
way and pigmented mould were later soaked out of all the surfaces. A
fungicidal and bactericidal solution was then applied to the damp plaster.
Despite all these preventative measures, however, irreversible longterm
changes have occurred in several spots. Only after a lengthy monitoring
process will be it become clear which inscriptions should be restored,
and which rewritten.
Restorers Bláha Josef & Bláha Otto undertook
the first phase of the restoration of the artificial marble surrounding
the bimah and ark ; this involved removing impurities and damaged conservation
A structural investigation revealed damage to the
load-bearing members of the basement ventilation channels alongside
the perimeter walls of the synagogue. Repair work began on these structures
in February, on the basis of a project drawn up by structural engineers
Němec & Polák . Measurement points were set in certain cracks in
the walls and arches with the aim of monitoring the stability of the
structure. This monitoring is continuing and the results will be assessed
by the end of April 2001. A slight movement has been detected by the
measurements carried out to date. In order to conserve the damaged structure
it will be necessary to secure the building with steel rods and to treat
individual cracks. At this stage, one cannot rule out the need for other
measures, such as stabilising the building by pressurised injections
of ballast material.
All the above results of individual operations have been included in project documentation coordinated by the engineer Jan Červenák and architect Josef Bradáč. Once relevant building permit has been received and contractors selected on the basis of a competition for tenders, further repair work will be begin as soon as possible. This involves (among other things) reconstruction of the under-floor heating and all other related building alterations.
So far in 2003, the following institutions have provided financial contributions towards the removal of damage to the Jewish Museum in Prague caused by the August floods, in particular towards the renovation of damaged buildings and facilities:
The American Friends of the Czech Republic, USA
For their contributions and support, we would like
to thank the above and all other donors who are concerned about the
fate and renovation of damaged Jewish monuments.
The completion of the new synagogue in the Romanesque
and Moorish style was supervised by Ignatz Kapper and Filip Kaufmann
and was financially supported by the then mayor of Smíchov, industrialist
and member of the Provincial Assembly, František Ringhofer. To mark
the completion of the building, a memorial document (the one that has
just been found) was drawn up and signed on the back by the fourteen
members of the Jewish community’s representative body.
This August, the Smíchov Synagogue will celebrate its 140th anniversary. The memorial document will be kept at the Museum, but, after completion of repair work , a copy, together with other documents on the history and reconstruction of the synagogue will be placed where the original item was found in memory of those who built the synagogue and for the benefit of future generations.
TOURING EXHIBITIONS –
This project was conceived by Arno Pařík , an exhibition
curator at the Museum. Specialist Museum staff, Alexandr Putík , Andrea
Braunová and Olga Sixtová, contributed to the preparation of texts and
Eva Kosáková a Vlastimila Hamáčková worked on the selection of items
and archive materials. Regional museums and galleries in Děčín, Pilsen,
Brno, Náchod, Mikulov and Karlovy Vary have already expressed interest
in the project.
© 2004 - 2008 Jewish Museum in Prague