A History of Antiquities Collecting in the Czech Lands

Between 2005 and 2006 a grant project GA ČR no. 408/05/2635 “A History of Antiquities Collecting in the Czech Lands” was undertaken in joint collaboration with the Department of Classical Archaeology of The National Museum in Prague by late Iva Ondřejová and Marie Dufková. The results of the project are published in the book.

We present here part of the foreword to the publication:5

“Ancient antiquities, stored in the collections in the Czech Lands, were studied in the past in both scientific and popular literature. In this regard, several works were focused on the history of Antiquities collection in our lands, some mentioned that only in passing, but nevertheless a systematic overview spanning random collection of Ancient antiquities for personal enjoyment to systematically arranged collections was missing until now. The present work is an attempt of such a kind, as since its inception the authors were aware that they will not be able to cover all lacunae that accumulated over centuries. Changing owners, absence of archival material and, of course, transformation of the relationship to the Antiquity are among the principal obstacles when studying genesis of individual collections and their relationship to the contemporary milieu. Absence of archival material until the mid-19th c. can be even coined as “silence” and even if such records do exist, albeit in fragments, we are not so lucky to find the objects in question in the existing collections on our soil. Others are irreversibly lost. The principal goal of this work, however, was not to search for lost items and collections but to provide an overview of the character and importance of the Antiquities collection in our lands. We must put special emphasis on the last words, as the interest in these collections was never motivated by national aspirations. Larger collections grew as a result of pan-European interest in this chapter of cultural history.

It must be emphasized that the following overview is not finished whole, but that we can expect that it will be a call for future scholars to fill in above mentioned lacunae, complement some of the data and bring new crucial findings.”

The research was supported by the program project of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic in years 2001-2003 (no. RK01PO30MG002) and by a project of the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic between 2005-2006 (no. 408/05/2635).

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