Resilience: My Husband, A Museum & Alphonse Mucha, Part 1

Resilience: My Husband, A Museum & Alphonse Mucha, Part 1

I’m in a hurry to get this post out. Today I’m boarding an Amtrak train to Chicago. There a friend and I will meet up for a road trip. The destination is Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the grand opening of the new National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

Why there? I became interested in the museum after my Czechoslovak husband Charles died. I remembered conversations we had about his personal papers and unpublished memoir. He wanted them to go to a place of permanence where students and researchers could learn about the life of a resilient Czechoslovak immigrant. He escaped his war torn homeland, via Venezuela, then Michigan with little. But, with the help of his wife and family carved a successful life as a civil engineer.

What should be done with the papers? Should they go to the local Detroit Public Library or Wayne State University? Or to the University of Michigan where Charles received two degrees after his retirement?  Or should they go to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library?

I made an initial contact to the museum in April 2008 about ten months after Charles died. I was still experiencing the rawness and haze of the loss, and felt an urgency to preserve Charles’ memory.  I inquired about making donations of personal papers, etc. Two months later in June 2008, the Czech and Slovak Museum was hit by a devastating flood. It caused damage running into millions of dollars. The museum and others in the area had as much as eight to ten feet of water in them.  Its fate was uncertain.

I was devastated – for the terrible loss for the museum and personally for my hopes for the museum as a possible archive for Charles’ papers, etc.  Amazingly, nearly two years later the resilient staff and supporters of the museum reopened in a new temporary location in the middle of Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village.

And even more amazing – on July 14, 2012 (four years after the flood) the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library will reopen in a brand new building, in a new location with restoredcollections.

AND. . . the Grand Opening: Grand Designs will feature an exhibit of more than 230  pieces of art of the resilient Czech artist  (1860 – 1939) – Alphonse Mucha :  Inspirations of Art Nouveau.

And that is why I’m going to Iowa. Stay tuned for Part II of “Resilience: My Husband, A Museum & Alphonse Mucha.”



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