History of the Cast Collection

The origins of the Collection are closely tied to the foundation of the Chair for Classical Archaeology at Charles University in 1872. It originally consisted of almost 800 casts; the oldest ones probably come from the aristocratic collection of the Counts of Nostitz, created in the late 18th century. The majority of the casts came to Prague from museums all around Europe due to the professors of Classical Archaeology Otto Benndorf and Wilhelm Klein. The latter also executed his famous reconstructions of statues and groups (Myron´s Athena and Marsyas, Invitation to the Dance or Muse Polyhymnia in particular) on the Prague casts in cooperation with the famous Czech sculptor Josef Václav Myslbek.

Almost immediately after its foundation, in 1873, the Collection was displayed to the public in one of the historical buildings of the Clementinum complex, today the National Library. Later, in the 1950s, during the Communist era, the Collection was removed from Prague and migrated over the republic, many casts having been destroyed owing to improper manipulation and unsatisfactory conditions. In 1969 the building of the church of the former Franciscan convent in Hostinné, East Bohemia, finally saved the casts from complete disaster. This age-old, chronologically organized Gallery of the Ancient Art, has been displayed nearly 110 casts since 1969. The rest of the Collection waited in the depositories until 1993 when the Museum of Classical Art and Architecture was opened in the baroque riding-hall of the chȃteau Litomyšl. After nearly 20 years of its existence, a short two-year episode in the Municipal Museum of Ústí nad Labem, North Bohemia, followed. Most recently, in June 2016, the long-term exhibition “Enchanted by Antiquity”  was opened in the chateau Dux.

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