On 1 October 2003, the Jewish Museum in Prague reopened
the Pinkas Synagogue, which has been closed for the last 14 months as
a result of damage caused by last year’s floods.
Last August, Prague was hit by devastating floods. Of all the heritage-protected
Jewish buildings in Prague, it was the Pinkas Synagogue that suffered
the most damage. The nave and entrance hall were flooded with contaminated
ground water and mud; the level of flood water reached a height of 1.3
metres above the ground floor and the basement areas were completed
inundated. The structure of the building, the spacing and ventilation
channels, and the structure of the arches were damaged. In addition,
the electric under-floor heating, thermal insulation and waterproofing
under the water level were completely destroyed.
The reconstruction of the synagogue was carried out in two stages –
the actual building project followed on from the preparatory work carried
out by various specialists.
The team of experts comprised a microbiologist, chemist, climatologist,
building engineer, diagnostician of building constructions, structural
engineer, hydrogeologist, restorer of paintings, stone restorer and
a heritage protection employee. Its recommendation was to prioritize
the securing of the building. Dampness in the synagogue was gradually
reduced. The rooms had to be repeatedly cleaned and disinfected.
Despite all the preventative measures, however, irreversible long-term
changes occurred in several spots. The inscriptions on the eastern part
of the south wall were completely destroyed; these will be the focus
of restoration measures once the synagogue has been put back into operation.
The expected term for the writing of new inscriptions is October 2003
– April 2004.
A reconstruction study was prepared in order to ensure the successful
course of the rescue and reconstruction project. This study, together
with the results of each operation, was included in the project documentation
for the building permit. The building project was prepared with regard
to the exceptional cultural and historical value of the building and
with a view to returning it to its original architectural form. Building
work was completed on 12 September 2003.
The investor of the Pinkas Synagogue reconstruction project was the
Jewish Museum in Prague. Funding was provided from various sources,
the most significant amount being covered by the Museum’s insurance
policy with the company Kooperativa a.s. (mediated by brokerage firm
Aura Lloyd s.r.o.). The remaining costs were covered by several international
grants and donations, as well as the Museum’s own resources.
Major financial contributions towards the reconstruction of the Pinkas
Synagogue were received by the Museum from a number of sponsors and
institutions from the Czech Republic and abroad and from international
organizations, notably: The World Monuments Fund (USA); the Czech-German
Foundation for the Future (Czech Republic and Germany); Freie und Hansestadt
Hamburg (Germany); The American Joint Distribution Committee (USA);
The American Friends of the Czech Republic (USA); The American Jewish
Committee (USA); The Project Judaica Foundation (USA); the EZRA Foundation
(Slovakia). The expected total costs linked to the overall reconstruction
amount to k 7.8 million.
The permanent exhibition „Children’s Drawings from
Terezín, 1942-44“, from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague,
has been reinstalled on the upper floor of the synagogue. The introductory
part of the exhibition includes an informative text about the Art in
Extreme Situations project which is held as part of a workshop at the
Education and Culture Centre of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
With the reopening of the Pinkas Synagogue,
the tour of the Jewish Museum is now complete. Accordingly, as of 1
October 2003, the Museum’s previous admission fees applies (these were
reduced during the time the Pinkas Synagogue was closed to the public):
adults – 300.- CZK; children aged 6-15 and students – 200.- CZK ; children
under 6 – free of charge. For more information contact ou7 Reservation Centre on +420 222 317 191.