Brno City Museum, Špilberk Castle, view from Villa Tugendhat, 2008, photograph: David Židlický
Brno City Museum
Brno–střed, Špilberk 1 PSČ 662, Czech Republic
Brno City Museum – an institution that was charged with caring for the cultural heritage of its city when it was founded – has a history stretching back more than a hundred years.
The opening ceremony for the City Museum was held on Sunday 18 September 1904 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Brno’s mayor Sir Augustin Wieser coming to office. The museum was located in the historical premises of the former house of the Moravian estates (now the New Town Hall) and was connected here to the previous installation of the city gallery, created at the beginning of 1896 from a legacy from the distinguished Brno burgher Heinrich Gomperz, which thereby became part of the museum. The ruling to establish their own city museum was taken by Brno Municipal Council on 20 March 1900, in spite of the fact that two other museum institutions had already been operating in the city for several decades – The František Museum, later the Moravian Museum (est. 1817), and the Museum of Applied Art (1873).
The First World War put the brakes on the early development of the new museum, and the period that followed, during which modern Brno experienced an enormous boom, also saw its problems. In the middle of the nineteen thirties the museum was forced to leave its original premises and found a haven in the less suitable surroundings of the “City Court” in Šilingrovo náměstí. The museum was also merged with the city archive at that time, and the two institutions were not to separate definitively until 1948. A certain stagnation and the damage caused by the events of the Second World War were gradually overcome, and a progressive increase in museum work and the museum’s reputation among the public were evident as early as the nineteen fifties.
A fundamental turning point in the development of the museum came with its relocation to that important Brno landmark Špilberk Castle in 1960. The gradual increase in the number of qualified specialist and technical staff was inevitably reflected in the scope and quality of the museum’s work, in the growth of museum collections, in new exhibits and exhibitions, and in other forms of scientific, specialist and cultural work. Not even the problems caused by the many years of extensive reconstruction to the home of the museum, Špilberk Castle, from 1984 onwards could do much to change this.
Brno City Museum, with its extensive and valuable collections and its scientific, specialist, educational and cultural activity, of which the presentation of its collections in exhibitions is an integral part, is today one of the leading museums in this country, evidence of which is provided by the large number of visitors it receives from both this country and abroad.