The exhibition The Touches of Statehood, which can be seen at the Prague Castle Riding School, is an extraordinary exhibition project of the Military History Institute in Prague. The exhibition held within the frame of the project Founded in 1918 represents a thousand of unique objects documenting the exceptional moments of our modern history. The exhibition familiarises the public with the contents of the concept “state symbols”, namely by presenting the examples of specific subjects which are part of our national history.
The exhibition The Touches of Statehood was organised on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia by the Military History Institute Prague in cooperation with the Prague Castle Administration, the Office of the President of the Republic, the Archive of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, the Central Military Archive, the National Museum and the Postal Museum.
The exhibition is held under the auspices of the President of the Republic, Miloš Zeman, who mentioned about the exhibition: “This exhibition shows that independence is not a matter of course, and that Czechoslovakia had been fighting for its independence not only before 1918, but many struggles were fought even in the following years. Just the fates of personages but also of unknown people who gained the merit that today we can celebrate the centennial anniversary of the establishment and existence of an independent state are represented at this exhibition, which represents the culmination of the project Founded in 1918.
The exhibition “The Touches of Statehood” is truly unique with its concepts and exhibits. I am glad that the Prague Castle was involved in this important event in the celebrations of the centennial anniversary of state celebrations. Where else should the commemoration of our independence, our state symbolism, take place than at the Prague Castle, the eternal symbol of our statehood, the seat of the Czech kings and the seat of the presidents of the Republic since 1918.”
President Miloš Zeman also thanked Colonel Aleš Knížek, Director of the Military History Institute Prague, and Jan Novák from the Office of the President of the Republic, for the theme and the efforts, which led to the exhibition implementation. The President also thanked all the authors and those who prepared the exhibition, headed by Colonel Michael Burian of the MHI.
“I wish the exhibition brought pleasure not only to professional public, but to all citizens who will visit it. Those who will bring their children, grandsons and granddaughters and together remember the turning points of our history,” concluded his greeting the President of the Republic.
Minister of Defence Karla Šlechtová uttered about the exhibition: “This exhibition has a beautiful title – The Touches of Statehood. What better can be than the “touch” – the touch of the past, the touch of our history over the last hundred years… I am glad that the President of the Republic assumed the patronage over the exhibition, I am glad that the exhibition was prepared by the Military History Institute Prague, part of the Ministry of Defence, and I would like to thank everyone for the work they have done here. I am proud of being the Czech, that I can celebrate the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the Republic, and I hope that in one hundred years our next generation will stand again and remember this anniversary in 2118, of two hundred years of the existence of our state.”
Director of the Military History Institute Prague, Colonel Staff General Aleš Knížek mentions regarding the exhibition The Touches of Statehood: “This year we celebrate the centenary of the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic. The Republic which would have not existed without the founding idea of several politicians and without the fight of almost one hundred thousand Czechoslovak legionaries on the front First World War lines. The Republic for whose freedom soldiers and civilians who did not cope with the Nazi occupation risk their lives during World War II, and many with the same efforts resisted the Communist regime after 1948. This exhibition is a tribute to the democratic values on the basis of which the Republic was built, but it also reminds us of the difficult times of our history.”
The main author of the exhibition, Colonel Michal Burian, Director of the Museum Department of the Military History Institute, regarding the contents of the exhibition says: “We managed to gather hundreds of thousands of rare collections during the period of operation of the Military History Institute Prague and its predecessors. These objects witnessed historical events which influenced the history of the Czech state. At the Prague Castle Riding School, we present a selection of the most valuable. At the exhibition The Touches of Statehood, visitors will learn, among other things, how state symbols have evolved, see the touched objects that belonged to both prominent and forgotten personages who shaped our modern history.”
The eight main parts of the exhibition, which represent the most important state symbols, have the following titles and themes: In the Sign of the Lion (national emblem), The Flag Story (flag), The Truth Wins (presidential standard), The Song of the Songs (Anthem), Both the Ordinary and Festive Day (October 28), The State Symbols (symbolism in general), Like Lions we Strike on Bars (resistance against lack of freedom and evil), Who does not Jump is not a Czech (connection of symbols and sport). The unique exhibits related to the given areas include designs of the state symbolism from 1918, 1919 and 1993. Part of the exhibition is a jewel case with the highest state decorations or unique archives connected with breakthrough moments. “Although a number of state symbols – especially the flag – have been misused many times over our history, they are still symbols for which our ancestors were willing to lay their lives,” adds the author of the exhibition, Colonel Michal Burian.
The specific content of the exhibition consists of many documents and artefacts. These include, for example, a tile with a two-tail lion from the Zvíkov Castle, the signboard of the Czechoslovak National Council in Paris, Plečnik’s artwork, a work desk and dining service of T.G. Masaryk, the first Bohemia B-5 Czechoslovakian aircraft, fine works by Vojtěch Preissig and František Kupka, bomb by Jan Kubiš, a resistance pendant with a Czech lion, a football from the match between the representatives of the allied armies and the British Army, which took place in London on 15 March 1941, the flag of 312 Czechoslovak RAF squadron, Václav Morávek’s false credentials, Otakar Jaroš’s uniform, the blooded flag from August 1968, the StB bugging device, Vladimír Remek’s space suit, Emil Zátopek’s running spikes, and the Czech hockey players’ talisman in Nagano. The first Czechoslovak Bohemia aircraft is the largest exhibit, the original border column from the period of the First Republic is another unique exhibit.
Part of the exhibition is changed and supplemented each month. “In May, visitors will have an extraordinary opportunity to see the originals of the Constitution from 1920 until present, which was lent to the exhibition by the Archive of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. In the following months the documents on the recognition of Czechoslovakia and then the documents related to the creation of the Protectorate or the Munich Agreement will be also presented. October will be dedicated to the presidential election,” says director of MHI, Colonel Staff General Aleš Knížek.
The visual form of the exhibition, which is designed in the shape of the flag, was prepared by Silvia Bednaříková from the Architectural Studio SGL, and the demanding construction was implemented by Výstavní realizace Praha.
The exhibition is open for the public from 10 May to 30 October 2018, daily from 10 am to 6 pm.