Moravian Gallery in Brno
The Moravian Gallery in Brno (Czech: Moravská galerie v Brně) is the second largest art museum in the Czech Republic, established in 1961 by merging of two older institutions. It is situated in five buildings: Pražák Palace, Governor's Palace, Museum of Applied Arts, Jurkovič House and Josef Hoffmann Museum. Since 1963 the gallery has organized the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno (Mezinárodní bienále grafického designu Brno).
Originally an apartment house built in the Late Renaissance style of Northern Italy in 1873-1874 for the Brno politician Alois Pražák, it was designed by the famous architect Theophil von Hansen who is also one of the creators of the Viennese Ringstrasse. Together with the neighbouring Besední dům, the Pražák Palace constitutes one of he most remarkable Neo-Renaissance architectural complexes in Moravia.
The Pražák Palace houses a permanent exhibition as well as temporary exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. The latest trends in the art scene are put on show in the Atrium, Space for a Single Artwork and the Courtyard of the Pražák Palace. The visitors can take advantage of the museum shop.
The Pražák Palace houses a specialist library and study room, open to the public since 1883 with no interruption. It offers a possibility to study art historical journals and publications, as well as specialist literature from related disciplines. The building is also the seat of the headquarters of the Moravian Gallery in Brno.
The history of this remarkable Baroque complex in Brno dates back to the mid-14th century. However, the present appearance of the former Augustinian monastery is in fact a result of its rebuilding in Baroque style by Moritz Grimm from the mid-18th century. Following the reforms introduced by Emperor Joseph II the monks were replaced by officers of the local government and of the Estates who resided there until well after the end of World War I.
Today, the Governor's Palace offers a permanent exhibition of art from the Gothic period to the 19th century, which includes the Drawing and Graphic Cabinet and a spaces for temporary displays. The Governor's Palace incorporates a baroque hall with a capacity of 150 seats, ArtMap bookstore and MORGAL Café.
Museum of Applied Arts
The monumental, quasi-historical building on the Brno ring road was purpose-built in 1882 to accommodate the oldest museum of applied arts in Bohemia and Moravia, and was considerably extended six years later. After World War II the building was adapted to plans by the leading functionalist architect Bohuslav Fuchs. The restoration project, designed by Ivan Koleček, Viktor Rudiš and Zdeňka Vydrová and completed in 2001, was received with great public acclaim.
The museum houses a permanent exhibition of applied arts from the Middle Ages to the present day, comprising collections of glass, ceramics and porcelain, textiles, furniture and metalware. In addition to seeing the traditional displays visitors can take a virtual tour of the museum exhibits accessible through the Microgallery. The building also contains rooms for temporary exhibitions and The Camera, being the only exhibition facility dedicated exclusively to photography within the Czech art museums.
The Museum of Applied Arts has a lecture room seating 70 people. The backup facilities for lecturing are provided by the Children's Studio.
The Jurkovič Villa is among the many fine examples of architecture created in Brno around the beginning of the 20th century. Together with buildings to Jurkovič's designs in Pustevny, Luhačovice and the Nové Město nad Metují chateau, it makes up the nucleus of his surviving work in the Czech Republic. What the Tugendhat Villa did for functionalism in Brno, the Jurkovič Villa does for art nouveau architecture.
Dušan Samo Jurkovič (1868 - 1947) spent the major part of his active life in Slovakia. However, he was a leading light of Czech architecture around the turn of the 19th century, ranking with Jan Kotěra. At the beginning of the 20th century, Jurkovič designed several buildings for Brno investors, although his most remarkable work in the city was his own villa, designed and built in 1906. It was situated at Jana Nečase 2, on a woodland slope above the River Svratka, at the edge of what was the village of Žabovřesky, now a Brno municipality. The construction embodies much of Jurkovič's architectural knowledge and experience and expresses his concept of a model villa. The design owes much to the English Art and Crafts movement, with particular emphasis on a traditional housing style together with a combination of free and applied arts. Jurkovič arrived at this original paraphrase of the English villa largely thanks to his existing experience with crafts; furthermore, it reflected his training under Camille Sitte in Vienna, developed by study of the work of Edgar Wood, C.R. Mackintosh and, in particular, H.M. Baillie-Scott (his House and Garden essay was published in Czech in 1910 by Laichter Publishing).
The way in which the villa is set in the landscape is a virtuoso feat of architecture, something that stamped Jurkovič's lasting reputation for sympathy with nature and sensitivity to it. Even today, the location is a popular destination for outings, with woods, the river and splendid panoramas. Jurkovič himself obviously enjoyed similar pleasures; he built a boathouse that he and his friends used on the bank of the nearby Svratka. The villa was a milestone in the architect's work, demonstrating a shift in his style. He started largely to abandon his initial imitations of wooden folk buildings, of which the only influence remaining is limited to the basic framework.
In the light of his Luhačovice construction experience, Dušan Jurkovič opted for a half-timbered frame covered with insulating cork panels, cemented from the outside and plastered from the inside. In accord with the frame, he tried to simplify the building elements to the maximum: the final visual effect is chiefly provided by white walls, while traditional folk elements became geometrical reductions. A novel feature was a stone arcade entrance with a terrace. In terms of layout, the villa is divided into a reception area near the entrance and a social section on the ground floor including the architect's own exhibition hall, a working section on the first floor, and private premises on both the ground floor and the first floor. The hall serves as a unifying element. Jurkovič employed these principles, applied in the villa for the first time, in his further work, such as the reconstruction of the Nové město nad Metují chateau and the Zbraslav monastery, as well as in residential buildings in Brno and elsewhere (the B. Škarda tenement house and others).
Josef Hoffmann Museum
The Hoffmann house, No.263, fronts the eastern side of the Brtnice square. The building was probably created by merging two smaller houses. The foundations of the northern house date back to around 1500, the Late Gothic core being still visible in the massive walls and the barrel vault of the cellar. After a fire of 1760 the exterior of the houses was unified by a Baroque re-building.
The house was owned by several generations of ancestors of the architect Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956). His father, Josef, was one of the most honoured burghers, and presided over Brtnice as mayor for 36 years. The family lived on the floor, the vaulted rooms at the ground level and the passageway served the family's working purposes.
After the death of their parents the children continued to come to a re-union in the house for the summer and, sometime between 1907-1911, Josef Hoffmann, then a renowned Viennese architect, refurbished the house. He concentrated on the interior, designed new pieces of furniture and had the walls in the rooms painted in vivid colours. The small room on the ground floor adjacent to the passageway was converted into a study with walls lined with wood panelling, and added a staircase. In the court yard, part of the building was turned into a summerhouse and fitted with new garden furniture. The outside appearance of the house changed very little. It was only later, after a fire of 1934, that the original mansard roof was given today's form.
The Hofmann house was confiscated in 1945 by the state and Josef Hoffmann never returned to Brtnice. The building, which later passed into the possession of the local branch of the Communist Party, turned into a state of disrepair and the furnishings disappeared. The vivid colour design was hidden under whitewash, which, paradoxically, helped to retain it until today.
After 1989 the house was transferred into municipal property and discussions concerning the necessity of its reconstruction began soon afterwards. The project design was commissioned to the office of the Brno architects Hrůša & Pelčák. With the drawings completed between 1995-1997 the project was finally realized in 2003. The restoration work was based on surviving period photographs, which Josef Hoffmann had commissioned after he finished his work and which he published in the contemporary press. The architect's study on the ground floor was painstakingly brought to its original state, including the furniture. The ornamental wall-decoration on the first floor was revealed and restored. The reconstruction also involved the barn at the back of the plot, while it is hoped that the summerhouse will be restored in the future.
The birthplace of Josef Hoffmann is the property of the town of Brtnice, and since January 1, 2006 it has been under the administration of the Moravian Gallery in Brno. The Josef Hoffmann Museum is a joint branch of the Moravská Galerie in Brno and the MAK, Vienna.
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