Step back in time with a visit to the National Gallery in Prague which is currently housing art exhibition Without Borders, Art in the Ore Mountains between the Gothic and the Renaissance. The exhibition is located in the Waldstein Riding School and was prepared for the National Gallery in cooperation with the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague, and the Faculty of Philosophy of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem. It takes a close look at fantastically preserved art from the Ore Mountains (Krušné Hory) between the Gothic and the Renaissance periods and gives viewers a chance to immerse themselves in the history of these locations as represented in diverse pieces of art work.
The exhibition opened in November 2015 and will close this March (13.3.16); since opening thousands of visitors have taken advantage of this extraordinary exhibition and have come to view the wealth of art, and with free entrance for all Charles University employees and students I invite you to do the same, while you can!
The exhibition offers a fantastic artistic experience with approximately 200 works of art spanning a 500 year period, each item on show is accompanied by an information box in both Czech and English stating the approximate dates of the art work, the material it is made from, where it was discovered and where the piece resides now when it is not in the exhibition. When you first enter the gallery there is a large introduction printed on the wall in both Czech and English translations, titled “The Ore Mountains and the capacity of Prague under Luxemburg rule.” This short introduction of the period will give any viewer, whether you are an enthusiastic historian or a curious art lover, a brief but concise summary of the relevant history to the exhibition, setting the scene perfectly to view the artwork with knowledge of its context.
The exhibition is divided naturally into sections devoted to northern Bohemia’s individual towns; the division is significant and constructive as you are made aware of the differences in how territories display their wealth, culture and religious expression through artistic self-representation.
As a History student, who has previously studied the high and late Middle Ages of Bohemia, I was able to really appreciate the history behind the wonderful pieces on display, however for those who have not studied this subject previously, don’t be put off! You are not left in the dark; in each section a large summary paragraph is printed on the wall which describes the region the art work is from, and the historical significance of the time it was produced. I personally found these descriptions very interesting and insightful, the towns represented were the royal towns of Litoměřice, Ústí nad Labem, Louny, Žatec, Most and Teplice, and the subject towns of Chomutov, Děčín and Kadaň.
If you do decide to visit the exhibition be sure to have a look upstairs where you can find a section dedicated to the mining towns in the Ore Mountains; the culture and mining activities of these towns are explored and many interesting artefacts are on display including coins and medals stuck in the Jáchymov mint and objects used for ore extraction, I found these were some of the most interesting things on display in the exhibition.
For more information on, or to be convinced further to visit, Without Borders have a look at the National Gallery’s website which also includes both opening and closing dates and times for the gallery and information about how to get there and what you will encounter once you are inside. I advise you to take time to see the exhibition while you have the chance, or even make an afternoon of the trip and visit the café upstairs! Don’t miss out on Without Borders, Art in the Ore Mountains between the Gothic and the Renaissance.
Abbie Elizabeth Burnett is a BA History student studying at the University of Essex in the UK. Abbie is currently studying within the Faculty of Arts, Charles University Prague for her Erasmus year and is enthusiastic to immerse herself in all the opportunities that an Erasmus year within the Czech Republic can offer. She was motivated to join the international iForum to gain valuable journalistic experience, meet new people and experience other cultures.