As part of the project “Prague European City of Culture”, and on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Museum building and 115th anniversary of the founding of the Museum, several new permanent galleries opened under the auspices of Pavel Dostál, Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic.

why the galleries needed an overhaul
Previous displays in the permanent galleries opened on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Museum in 1985. Masterpieces from the collections of decorative arts of Czech and Central — European origin demonstrated the stylistic changes from the 16th century to the 1850s. Earlier and later periods of history of decorative arts were dealt with as part of temporary exhibitions. In recent years the permanent galleries lost their appeal and became obsolete. Several visitors´ surveys provided information regarding visitors´ opinions and expectations. Preparations for the renovation programme of the galleries began in autumn 1998 under the guidance of the Director of the UPM, Dr. Helena Koenigsmarková, author of the new concept.

conception of the new galleries
The new arrangement of the galleries according to materials enables to create in each room the specific conditions suitable for that particular material: in the case of textiles, fashion, graphic collections and photography, this is the first time that these materials can be displayed permanently without being threatened from the conservation point of view.

The entrance hall, Votive Hall, is devoted to the institution´s history and founders. Textiles and fashion part of the exhibition — The Story of Fibre — covers development of secular and liturgical clothing, fashion accessories, tapestries, laces, embroidery etc. Glass and Ceramics Gallery, Born in Fire , offers a view of style and technology development concerning glass, ceramics and porcelain — e.g. table ware, tiny utility items, mirrors, stained glass, interier accessories. Graphic Arts and Photography Gallery, Print & Image , demonstrates ways of information transfer by image and text since 15th century, involving bookbindings, book illustrations, poster art in progress, smaller graphics and photograph sets along with unique pieces of art by J. Sudek or F. Drtikol. There is also Treasury — a gallery showing precious and non-precious metal collections. All displays are complemented with masterpieces from the furniture collections.

The new exhibitions not only enhance the splendour and richness of the Museum’s holdings. They also offer the public a greater number of objects, spanning from Late Antiquity to the 20th century; and a diversity of materials displayed in such a way that contributes to an entirely different, lively and inspiring atmosphere within the Museum.

architectural design
Leading architects entered the competition for the design of the permanent galleries, and included: B. Škorpilová and J. Nedvěd, S. and P. Kolíbal, E. Zavadil, J. Javůrek and V. Vagaday, and P. Hornek.

In June 1999 a jury (members from outside the UPM included Prof. E. Přikryl, Jan T. Kotalík, Dean of the Academy of Art in Prague, and Director of Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt, James Bradburn; among others) selected as a winner Ing. arch. Petr Hornek, with a design which best suited the requirements of the new display.

Hornek designed an open, lively, and flexible space and he enlarged the textiles room by adding a floor. Particular attention has been paid to designs of individual items of furnishings, such as cabinets with drawers, and work-benches for visitors activities.