Director General of Czech National Museum visits PH
Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olsa is very keen on strengthening relations between the two countries through an arts and culture exchange.
With this in mind, he personally invited Michal Lukes, director general of the National Museum of Czech Republic to the Philippines on a two-day visit on February 12 and 13, where the art curator and historian embarked on a tour of Metro Manila museums to explore possible collaborations in the future.
Lukes’ brief stay in the capital marked the very first visit of the director general of the biggest Czech cultural institution to the Philippines. He expressed hopes to introduce the Czech cultural heritage to the Filipino people by establishing ties with local institutions with the assistance of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Manila.
On his first evening in the capital, The Manila Times was able to sit down with Lukes at a welcome reception hosted by Ambassador Olsa at his Bonifacio Global City residence.
“I am only here for two days [but I’ve already seen]that Manila is a city of museums. [Until tomorrow] I will have the chance to visit up to six museums,” enthused Lukes.
First on his agenda was the Philippines’ very own National Museum, which houses Juan Luna’s famed “Spolarium,” and nearby Metropolitan Museum where he viewed the gold collection of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
He then went to several private institutions including the Ayala Museum in Makati City, and the Mind Museum in Bonifacio Global City, and had substantive talks on possible cooperation with the directors of the said institutions.
The following day, Lukes returned to Manila City to visit Museo Pambata and the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ theaters and galleries.
He also stopped by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and was received by Chairman Felipe de Leon Jr., who expressed his optimism on the future of Czech-Philippines cultural ties.
Lukes had just come from the opening of a Czech glass exhibition in South Korea, the country of previous posting of Ambassador Olsa. The exhibit was also initiated by the ambassador before his transfer to the Philippines, signifying his confidence in the arts as powerful tool for strengthening bilateral relations.
Besides Korea, the Czech National Museum will also hold exhibits in Malaysia and Armenia. In the future, Luke promised to bring a Czech collection to the Philippines.
“This year exhibitions made in cooperation with our partner National Museums are held on history and material culture of Azerbaijan, Bhutan and Afghanistan. More are being planned for the forthcoming year from Sudan and South Korea,” Lukes elaborated during a meeting with key people in the field of arts, culture and history in the Philippines.
Speaking more about the National Museum of the Czech Republic in Prague, Lukes informed that it was established as a national institution in 1818. To date, the impressive museum carries over 20 million items from nature, history, mineralogy, geology, paleontology, zoology and other sciences.
Moreover, the national museum is divided into five specialized institutions namely the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Historical Museum, the Library of the National Museum, the Naprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures, and the Czech Museum of Music, along with technical and administrative sections.
“We also invite collections from around the world for exhibit at Czech’s National Museum. We have this special program called ‘Window to the World’ where we present to the Czech people pieces from interesting countries like yours. I believe there is a need to showcase the Philippines through the arts [in our museum],” he noted.
Asked what he thought what exhibit the Philippines should bring to the Czech Republic, he advised that it would be golden collections of the BSP and the Ayala Museum.
“We must start with the basic points about the Philippines, its history, it people and its culture,” Lukes concluded.