Antonín Dvořák to Receive a World-class Museum Dedicated to his Life and Music
Modern, beautiful, breathtaking. Such should be the future Antonín Dvořák Birth House museum, which will bring people closer to the childhood of the world-famous composer, who lived the first years of his life in Nelahozeves. The project, which the Lobkowicz Collections has been working on intensely for the past few years, is intended to transport visitors to a small central Bohemian village in the mid-19th century and let them see the mosaic of influences and inspirations that were behind the birth of a musical genius.
The Lobkowicz family regained ownership of Antonín Dvořák's birthplace in 1992, and for the next 27 years rented it to the National Museum for a symbolic one crown per year. At the time, the building housed an exhibition created in 1971 and modified in 1991, and the building itself was repaired and maintained only to the extent necessary. Given the limited number of artefacts that have survived from the first years of the life of the composer, it was clear that when the Lobkowicz Collections decided to revitalize the birthplace and build a museum worthy of Dvořák's name, that it would be necessary to come up with a completely new and innovative concept. Gradually, the project of a world-class Dvořák-dedicated museum, which has no parallel in the Czech Republic, was conceived.
From the beginning, however, the intention was not only to build a museum that would honor the legacy of the world-renowned music composer in a dignified manner, but also a social center that would offer a whole range of cultural and educational programs for schools, musicians and the general public. Additionally, new social and economic opportunities will also arise here for the municipality, thanks to the increased interest of Czech and foreign visitors.
The realization of the project will be led by an experienced team from Lobkowicz Collections o.p.s., who will operate the future museum. A number of renowned Czech and foreign architects and designers who have undertaken similar projects around the world took part in the preparation. The academic consultants who were involved included figures from the National Monuments Institute, the National Museum, the Antonín Dvořák Society, and other Dvořák researchers and musicologists.
Currently, the project is in the phase of selecting a construction contractor. The buildings on the grounds of the birth house will undergo a total reconstruction, and one building will be added. The main parts of the future exhibition will be located on two floors of the main house, and also in the former granary building. The main entrance to the area will be from the village square, and a new visitor center will be created in the building where the stables used to be. In terms of the curatorial concept, approach to the audience, and exhibition design, the museum will be highly innovative. The main medium accompanying the visitor from the beginning to the end of their visit will be sound. The individual rooms will show life in a small village from different points of view, with an emphasis on different aspects of life at that time.
Each room will present different aspects of Dvořák’s childhood – including the village tavern, where he heard dance music from an early age; the church opposite his house, in which he heard church music that deeply influenced him; and the village school where he learned the violin. Nelahozeves as such will be shown in the context of different times and seasons. The surrounding landscape, nature, river and forest and, of course, the greatest civilizational achievement of the time - the railway - also provided fundamental inspiration to the future composer. All these elements will be illustrated audiovisually and individually. Each of the visitors will receive a device at the entrance, with which they can activate the content that will interest them in their headphones in the individual rooms. The accompanying lighting design and projections will also be unique.
The revitalization of Antonín Dvořák's birthplace is a very expensive project, the financing of which involves a number of private and institutional donors and sponsors. One of them is the EEA and Norway Funds, which provided a contribution to the creation of the modern exposition described above. Some of its parts and technical elements will be placed in Nelahozeves Castle in June 2023 before the final installation in the reconstructed buildings of the birthplace area. There, interested parties will be able to familiarize themselves with them and test their functionality. After that, the entire exhibition will be located in the birthplace of Antonín Dvořák, which is scheduled to open to the public in the spring of 2024.