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Credit: Crestyl

Prague to gain free space for installing the Slav Epic in the Savarin project

The developer and investment group Crestyl presented to the public an offer to the Capital of Prague for the installation of Alfons Mucha’s Slav Epic in the Savarin project for an estimated period of 25 years.

This is being created under the leadership of Thomas Heatherwick, an icon of contemporary world architecture and design, and his studio near Prague’s Wenceslas Square and Na Příkopě Street. Savarin has been chosen by the Prague Institute of Planning and Development as one of the most suitable places where the canvases could be installed, which would finally fulfil the wish of Alfons Mucha. Moreover, the Mucha Foundation, which works to preserve and promote Alfons Mucha’s art, would incorporate a selection from a family collection of the lifelong work of one of the most famous Czech artists into the permanent exhibition. Crestyl offers the construction of all the spaces for the exhibit and their equipment free of charge within five years. 

“We really appreciate the possibility of participating in the tender for the placement of the Slav Epic within our Savarin project. We are delighted that the Savarin project is supported by all political parties in the Prague City Council, for which we thank them. We have been negotiating for the past several months with the Mucha family on the placement of a fitting selection of Mucha’s lifelong work in these spaces, so we see considerable synergies in connection with the Slav Epic display. Therefore, our offer to the city is co-signed by the Mucha Foundation as well,” says Simon Johnson, Crestyl Group executive director. “We are offering a solution that would finally end the entire drama of the Slav Epic installation to make the painter’s wish come true. We are ready to cover all the costs related to the construction of exhibition spaces, including all the interior furnishings according to the requirements for the presentation of such a work. Prague would, thus, bear no initial expense for the creation of the exhibit, and would then enjoy a yearly income from the revenue.”

“The twenty canvases of the Slav Epic are, undoubtedly, my grandfather’s masterpiece, but the uniqueness of their presentation in Savarin consists in the connection with our private collection. This collection is the largest and most comprehensive worldwide; it contains many studies, pastels, drawings, oil paintings, photographs and written documents that accompanied the creation of the epic. All this could make the story of the creation of the work and a testimony of one historical period. This would result in the establishment of a unique museum of international importance comparable, from a conceptual point of view, perhaps only with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The Slav Epic would, thus, be exhibited as a whole,” says John Mucha, grandson of Alfons Mucha and chairman of the governing board of the Mucha Foundation. This foundation administers the collection of the painter’s lifelong work and, by selecting works and studies matching in time and theme, it would make, in connection with the Slav Epic, a unique permanent exhibit in the Savarin Palace. 

“Over the years, we have heard many ideas about where to install the Slav Epic. Prague has been looking for its home for almost 100 years now and we are convinced that the Savarin Palace fulfils my grandfather’s wish, on which he conditioned his gift to Prague. Thomas Heatherwick presented to us and also consulted the vision of exhibiting the twenty canvases of the Slav Epic, and I am convinced that my grandfather would be proud of such a presentation of his masterpiece. As I have already said several times, the moment the issue of the Slav Epic’s home in Prague is clarified, I will withdraw the lawsuit with the city, because the will of my grandfather will be fulfilled,” says John Mucha, grandson of painter Alfons Mucha.

The new exhibit tailored to the Slav Epic in the Savarin project would offer an exceptional and globally unique exhibition space in the city centre. At the same time, it will not burden its surroundings with a greater movement of people, as the exhibit would be entered from the inner courtyard and accessibility for visitors will be also made easier by the newly created interconnection to the underground station with a direct entry into the spaces of the Savarin project. The exhibit over an area of 3,500 m2 would be entered through the newly created gardens and the listed building of the historical riding school, which will be the centrepiece of the whole Savarin project.

The exhibition space of the epic and of the life’s work of Alfons Mucha will be 10 metres high, which will enable the presentation of the Slav Epic in a uniform visual view according to the original intention of Alfons Mucha. Then it will all be enhanced by the entry hall into the gallery, technical facilities, a shop with souvenirs related to Alfons Mucha and a space for the gathering of groups for guided tours. The whole area of the exhibit shall be conceived as the life path of Alfons Mucha and how this path led to the creation of the Slav Epic. The aim is to create a unique space in the heart of Prague, in which the appreciated architectural studio of Thomas Heatherwick directly participates. This studio also has rich experience with the design of exhibition spaces – for example, the conversion of an old silo in Cape Town into the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art, Zeitz MOCAA, under which the Heatherwick studio is signed, was awarded as the best building of the year. The opening of the exhibit in the Savarin project is planned within five years.

“I’m thrilled to hear that the amazing paintings by the Czech artist Alfons Mucha could potentially have a home in a new gallery space within our Savarin project. My studio is proud to be working with the property developer Crestyl to regenerate this prominent landmark quarter in the heart of historic Prague. This already important site could now have even greater significance for the city by becoming home to this internationally recognised collection of paintings that celebrate the history and culture of the Slavic people,” concludes Thomas Heatherwick, founder of the Heatherwick studio.