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Prague National Museum holds special face-mask exhibition

Prague, Czech Republic – On Monday, the National Museum in Prague launched a special face-mask exhibition to showcase all kinds of protective items sewn and worn during the coronavirus crisis.

National Museum organizes face-mask exhibition as “symbol of mutual solidarity”

Held in the museum’s historical building at the top end of Wenceslas Square in the center of Prague, the exhibition, called “Držíme spolu” (“We Stick Together”), puts on display over two dozens of face-masks, presented as a symbol of the Czech Republic’s fight against coronavirus.

Ironically, visitors themselves will have to wear face-masks to see the display: although face-masks regulations have been relaxed and are not mandatory outside anymore, they are still obligatory in most closed public spaces.

Talking to Radio Prague, the exhibition’s curator Miroslava Burianova explained why the display is so important: “One of the goals of the National Museum is to document the times we are living in […] That’s why we decided to select and preserve only items that are typical for a given era. Choosing the face-masks was obvious, because they have become a symbol of our times, a symbol of mutual solidarity, as well as the skills of Czech women”, she said.

The Czech Republic was, along with neighbouring Slovakia, one of the first European countries to make face-masks mandatory in public. The government’s strict approach on the matter, later emulated by other EU countries, has been partly credited with the country’s success in containing the virus at an early stage.

Two face masks, featuring the Czech flag and the Prague metro, displayed at the exhibition of the Prague National Museum
Featuring the Czech flag or the Prague metro lines, two face-masks currently on display at the Prague National Museum.

Keeping traditions alive

Although, like elsewhere, public stocks were in short supply and shortages soon became evident, Czechs quickly started to sew at home DIY face-masks for themselves, their friends and relatives, and even organized via social media to distribute them to frontline social and healthcare workers or elderly people.

You can read our behind-the-scenes report, straight from one of the many “ad-hoc” sewing workshops in Prague right here.

The exhibition at the National Museum in Prague, set to run until the end of September, showcases dozens of different face-masks, either made by fashion designers or the general public, many of them featuring colourful, unique and original motifs.

“What I admire most about the DIY masks is their precision. It gives me hope that this nearly forgotten tradition of home-sewing, maintained by generations of mothers and grandmothers, will be kept alive”, curator Burianova said.

Earlier this month, the Czech Police Museum in Prague had a similar idea and appealed to the general public to send them their prettiest and favourite face-masks for a special collection to be kept as a symbol of our times and a legacy for future generations.

Photo credit: Prague National Museum

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.

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