Yesterday marked 80 years since the death of the first Czechoslovak president and the founder of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, considered one of the greatest historical figures of all-time not only in Czech but world history.
A new exhibit, opening today at the National Museum, aims to uncover the identity behind the man whose regal countenance appears in portraits, photographs, and—little-known fact—on a 1997 Faith No More album cover!
“Masaryk is a phenomenon; a historical phenomenon, a phenomenon of literally revolutionary changes. The exhibition will introduce his personal life, his public life and his life after life,” says National Museum director Michal Lukes.
“It shows Masaryk as a son, father, husband, a publicly active person and a man with a rich personal life.”
Hoping to avoid the classical cliché of “President Liberator” the exhibit will present multiple aspects of Masaryk’s life, examining his personality, his relationships, beliefs, ideas, and opinions.
A crucial part of the exhibition is devoted to his relationship with American wife, Charlotte (whose maiden name Garrigue he took as his own middle name) as well as his extraordinarily contemporary views on America and Russia.
The philosopher politician’s life will be examined in the larger context of Czech history from the founding of the First Republic in 1918 to his death and burial in 1937 and the subsequent changes in leadership.
Some 220 objects as well as audio and video materials, will be on display including one of the National Museum’s most treasured artifacts, Masaryk’s riding suit.
As for the photo on the album cover, it features the Czech president leaning out of a train window, waving to and shaking hands with supporters, and appeared on Faith No More’s 1997 album, ”Album Of The Year.”
The album jacket even depicts Masaryk’s funeral, with the words Pravda vítězí (truth prevails), the motto of the Czech Republic, adorning the coffin; the band frequently wore vintage suits to reflect the artwork on tour in support of the album.
President Masaryk wouldn’t be the first Czech to get a nod by ’90s alt-rockers: the cover of Soul Asylum’s 1992 album ”Grave Dancers Union” features a photo by Czech photographer Jan Saudek.
For more details on the visit on the exhibit visit www.nm.cz
Masaryk as Phenomenon runs through January 31, 2018 at that National Museum’s New Building.