In the Greek tradition, a pantheon was a temple where gods were worshiped. The Pantheon in the National Museum in Prague is directly below the dome on the first floor, and it highlights important Czech figures, as well as 19th and 20th century social life and art.


Great Czech personalities in the Pantheon

The hall currently contains fifty-five busts and statues of important scientists and artists. According to Michal Stehlík, vice-director of the museum, politicians whose busts are in the Pantheon are not there for their political work, but because they engaged in philosophy or science. The busts and statues have been in the Pantheon ever since its foundation in 1891, when the Historical Building was built in the upper part of Wenceslas Square. The ‘hall of fame’ has always been a mirror of its time, so the figures whose busts and statues are in the hall, as well as their number, have changed over time. Some personalities were added, others taken away and later some of them returned. For example, the busts of the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Elizabeth returned to the Pantheon after almost one hundred years. Their place in the Pantheon is an expression of gratitude for a couple of thousand golden coins that the emperor personally donated for the construction of the Historical Building of the National Museum.

According to the museum management team, the number of prominent figures in the Pantheon will not change at present, as there is no space for any more statues.

An exhibition in the gallery also shows the history of the hall and explains when and why certain sculptures were added or taken away during the communist regime as well as during the Nazi occupation.


Museum renovations

The building will open after seven years. The National Museum has undergone extensive renovations since 2015. It was the most complex reconstruction in the history of modern monument care, and it has also been significantly modernised. However, the building had been waiting to be renovated for over 120 years. The aim was also to restore the building to its original appearance, as it was when it was completed in the 1890s by the architect Josef Schulz.

On Saturday, the 11th of January, visitors will be able to admire the many original collections that have been hidden in archives for a long time.


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