Our Project Manager Eva Heyd was nominated for the Governor of the Central Bohemia Region Award.
Czech National Trust Abroad celebrated 5 years from founding CNT. On the occasion, we arranged a celebration at the Czech Embassy in London. And what was the celebration like? If you read more, you’ll find out in text and pictures.
Volunteers from Great Britain came to work at the Hukvaldy chateau in September. Take a look at all the things they were doing – it was a lot! And looks like fun too.
In August, seven Britons – all from different parts of England – met at the castle in Rožmitál pod Třemšínem for a week-long working holidays. They teamed up with local volunteers and together they not only managed a huge amount of work but they had lots of fun too.
CNT welcomes a new team member. In July 2019, Viera Hladišová joined our forces as the new Director.
Extraordinary life stories of both internationally renowned and not so famous Czechoslovak artists who were forced to leave their home country at the beginning of the Second World War and settle in the U.S., and their influence on the New World’s arts scene – these are all outlined in Ticket to the New World.
Shortly before their departure from Czechoslovakia Voskovec and Werich, famous Czechoslovak pioneers of avant-garde theatre, comedians and singers, sent a New Year card to their friends which said: “One can never consider anything to be final, as one never knows what might happen next…”. The card also contained a drawing by Adolf Hoffmeister which showed Voskovec and Werich holding suitcases, and even the famous Ježek’s piano had the shape of a massive suitcase. What were their main concerns as they disembarked Aquitania, a British ocean liner which brought them to New York?
Young Thomas Messer spent six days in a lifeboat in the open sea after his ocean liner was sunk by German torpedoes. He survived and later became the director of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for 27 years.
Ticket to the New World portrays the extraordinary life stories of these and eleven other remarkable Czechoslovak émigrés who found their home on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. It is bilingual, pocket-size and contains many photos and humorous illustrations. Apart from treating yourself or your loved ones by buying this book, the purchase of Ticket to the New World is also a great way to support the Czech National Trust and our projects and activities.
You can order it here.
The Ticket to the New World Project took place between September 20 and October 12, 2018. It presented the extraordinary life stories of both internationally renowned and not so famous Czechoslovak artists who were forced to leave their home country at the beginning of the Second World War and ended up settling down in the United States, and their influence on the New World’s art scene.
The total of 16 Czechoslovak artists were put in the spotlight as part of the project. One of them was Jan Werich, an actor, playwright and writer, which is why the Werich Villa and the whole Kampa Park became the central venue for project events and activities. Nonetheless, as the project agenda was quite rich and consisted of one book launch, six exhibitions, multiple screenings, numerous concerts, lectures and talks, the Werich Villa simply could not host them all and therefore was not the only project venue. Visitors could attend the above listed events and activities at various other venues in central Prague as well.
All six exhibitions ended up being very successful. The most popular one was the outdoor exhibition in Kampa Park which attracted several thousand visitors over the course of the three weeks. The other exhibitions were:
- An exhibition at the Artinbox Gallery which connected the unique photographs of Alexander Hackenschmied and Bedřich Grünzweig with the drawings of Alén Diviš, and which was supplemented with multiple screenings of Hackenschmied’s experimental movies
- A small-scale exhibition of Oldřich Rosenbaum’s fashion designs at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague (which will remain open until the beginning of December).
- An exhibition of Ladislav Sutnar’s information graphics and original letters at the American Centre
- An exhibition of the famous caricatures by Adolf Hoffmeister and his friends, Antonín Pelc and Maxim Kopf, at the Millenium Gallery
- An exhibition of Oswald Holzer’s letters and of letters of his friends, which they would send to each other across five different continents during the Second World War, mapping out the whole time period and its events in quite an intimate and unique way
- An afternoon with Joanie Schirm, an American writer and the daughter of Oswald Holzer who travelled all the way from the United States to share her memories of her father, was a very emotional experience for everyone who attended
An integral part of the project was the launch of a book of the same name. The Ticket to the New World book, of which 800 copies have been published, is bilingual, pocket-size and contains many photos and humorous illustrations. Eva Heyd is the author of the prologue and also the editor in chief, while the Czech National Trust is the publisher. The body of the book consists of texts and contributions by sixteen different authors and experts on the given topics.
The prologue of the book assesses the historical period in question and describes the very complex impact and consequences of the Munich Agreement both on the Czech Republic and on the United States. The rest of the publication is divided into multiple sections, all of which introduce different artists:
- Chapter 1: Architects and Designers, it is dedicated to Jaroslav J. Polívka, Jan Hird Pokorný and Ladislav Sutnar
- Chapter 2: The World of Fine Arts, it is dedicated to Thomas Messer
- Chapter 3: Concert Ovation, it presents the life stories of Bohuslav Martinů, Jarmila Novotná, Rudolf Firkušný and Jaroslav Ježek
- Chapter 4: About Theatre, it is dedicated to Jan Weirch and Jiří Voskovec
- Chapter 5: Photographers and Moviemakers, it presents the life stories of Alexander Hackenschmied, Hugo Haas, Bedřich Grünzweig and Paul Fierling
- One of the other chapters in the book talks about fashion and the main protagonist is Oldřich Rosenbaum
- The final chapter is dedicated to émigré publicists – Adolf Hoffmeister and an entire group of journalists and writers who arrived in the U.S. at the beginning of the Second World War.
Each chapter always starts with a short introduction outlining the overall situation and opportunities in the given field in New York and in other states and cities in the U.S. at the time. Although the individual artist bios do describe the production and professional success of the artists in question, they are mainly focused on their life stories, the obstacles the artists had to overcome as immigrants and on their tireless efforts to integrate into the American society.
The Ticket to the New World book has successfully connected all the events and activities. One of the most significant ones was the Two Worlds, Two Sonatas concert which took place in the Czech Museum of Music. Bohuslav Martinů’s Sonata number 1 from the pre-war period as well as Jaroslav Ježek’s masterpiece titled Piano Sonata which he composed in New York shortly before his death, were both performed by pianists Daniel Wiesner and Václav Mácha and violinist Ivan Štraus. The audience at Ponrepo Cinema has also very much appreciated the film noir series by Hugo Haas, which was prefaced by Milan Hein.
The four lectures which took place at the Municipal Library of Prague were among the festival highlights as well. One of them was dedicated to J. J. Polívka, a Czech architect, and his cooperation with Frank Lloyd Wright. The second lecture focused on émigré journalists, mainly on those who settled down in New York. The remaining two lectures were mainly about screenings: Paul Fierliger’s animated film Drawn from Memory, and a movie called I was accused starring Jiří Voskovec.
The events which took place at the American Centre were also very popular: the Design in Action lecture about Ladislav Sutnar by Iva Knobloch, curator of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, was an extraordinary one, just like the New York World’s Fair 1939 lecture. The final event which took place at the American Centre was the screening of the film Thomas Messer – My Life with Guggenheim.
The book, the entire project agenda as well as the exhibitions have all been the result of endless efforts of a small CNT working group, members of which were almost exclusively volunteers. They have reached out to the experts and professionals in all the given fields, both in the Czech Republic and in the United States, who have further contributed with their knowledge and skills. Everybody has done an amazing job with an extraordinary level of enthusiasm for this special project.
The entire project was part of the nation-wide celebrations marking the centenary of the modern Czech statehood and of Czech-American relations, and it was organized by the Czech National Trust. Nonetheless, multiple other institutions have also taken part in the project preparation process, such as the Werich Villa, Czech Museum of Music, American Centre, Millenium Gallery, Municipal Library of Prague, Artinbox Gallery, Musem of Decorative Arts in Prague and the National Film Archive – Ponrepo Cinema.
Ticket to the New World commemorates some prominent representatives of Czechoslovak cultural life who left their home country at the beginning of WWII and emigrated to the United States, where they left a significant mark on the US art scene later.
The project partially documents their unusual stories and fates, introduces their activities and work in the US and traces the legacies they had left there and which we can be proud of.
Download the program here.