Press release on the opening of the When the Emperor is dying exhibition
The National Museum is concluding the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV.And so, in the Czech Museum of Music at Malá Strana, one of the last exhibitions of the year of Charles IV, introducing symbolically the themes of death and the historical immortality of this important ruler, will take place.However, the exhibition When the Emperor is dying will concentrate not only on the person and influence of the Emperor Charles IV, but also and primarily, it will allow a closer look into the world of medieval society.Many 14th and 15th century artefacts from the collections of the National Museum will be on show, complemented by rare loans both from public institutions and private collections.The exhibition will run from 26 March 2017 and will include a rich accompanying programme.
The grandeur of Charles IV's burial, the funeral procession and the magnificence of the mourning ceremonies indicate the importance of this historical figure, who has remained in the consciousness of the entire nation to this day. The procession offered a breath-taking spectacle and went through the famous historical parts of Prague - Vyšehrad, Prague Castle, Malá Strana (Lesser Town), and the Old and New Towns. At its head walked 546 black-clad lightbearers with lighted candles. The funeral was attended by representatives of the foremost noble families, the aldermen of the Old and New Towns and other important burghers. This was a truly unique occasion, unprecedented in those times.
“The National Museum has chosen the apparently incongruous topic of the Emperor's death and burial for the year in which we celebrate the birth of the Charles IV.However, this choice does have its logic.The burial of Charles IV opened the way to his immortality and became one of the most interesting events of the time.The grand funeral procession offered a view of society and life in those times.Our exhibition has the same ambition.We hope it will conclude in an interesting way the 2016 series of exhibitions and events commemorating the anniversary of the birth of the King and Emperor, Charles IV, said the general director of the National Museum, Michal Lukeš.
The death and immortality of the King and Emperor Charles IV
When entering the foyer of the Czech Museum of Music, one is impressed by a copy of the monumental statue of the Emperor Charles IV Enthroned from the Old Town Bridge Tower, which dominates the entire space.
Through various exhibits, the first part of the exhibition will introduce life in medieval times during the Luxembourgs' reign in the Czech Lands. Visitors will see, for example, various objects of daily use, sophisticated architectonic elements from medieval times, a set of coins, seals and also examples of weaponry and armaments.
The next part is dedicated to the topic of death, dying and the role of the Church in the Middle Ages, and presents sacral objects - rings, outer vestments, chalices, pilgrimage badges, religious statuettes, reliquaries and so on. These objects accompanied every individual from birth in 14th and 15th century Christian society and prepared them for “the last things of man” - death and the life eternal, or damnation.
The main part of the exhibition is focused on the key moments of the death and burial of Charles IV, including the ceremonial path of the funeral procession, by presenting the textiles from the royal tomb at Prague Castle. Among other important artefacts exhibited here are, for example, the wooden triptych alterpiece from Slavětín, the antependium of Třeboň with the insignia of John I of Rosenberg and Elisabeth of Hals with sacral motifs, a beautiful monstrance, medallions and fragments of tombstones.
The final section of the exhibition is dedicated mostly to 19th century works of art which represent the lasting memory of the deeds of Charles IV relating to the majesty of his "second life".
Evenings in the company of Charles IV
A rich programme is prepared to accompany the exhibition, starting with the exhibition opening. During the series of events called Six evenings for Charles IV, visitors will have the opportunity to experience unique cultural events in various historical parts of Prague, showing the places where the funeral procession paused with the remains of Charles IV. Interesting concerts, discussions, workshops, programmes for children and a memorial candle procession for the Emperor are planned.
There will also be weekend and evening guided tours and afternoon events for families with children in the popular cycle At least for a weekend.
The National Museum and the celebrations of Charles IV
On the occasion of the anniversary of the birth of Charles IV this year, the National Museum has also prepared other events and exhibitions. The historical figure of Charles IV has been presented by the National Museum in the exhibition Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, at Bauska Castle in Riga, Latvia. In late November 2016, the exhibition moved to Tallinn in Estonia. On 15 November, the exhibition Charles IV and Faith was opened with the participation of the Czech and Portuguese presidents in Cascais, Portugal. The series of lectures Charles IV and the women in his favour, held in the New Building of the National Museum, also met with great success among visitors.