New Roma and Sinti Centre to open in a renovated Prague villa in 2023

The Centre will highlight the Roma people's history and present works by Roma artists, concerts, films and lectures

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 09.09.2020 09:57 (updated on 09.09.2020)

Prague, Sept 8 (CTK) – A Roma and Sinti Centre will open in a villa in Prague’s Dejvice neighborhood on March 1, 2023, representatives of the Brno-based Museum of Roma Culture (MRK), which supervises the project, told media today.

The new Centre will present works by Roma artists, concerts, films and lectures, and highlight the Roma people’s history as well as their current position in society.

“The Centre will offer space for Roma people from all over the Czech Republic and also other groups to meet […] We expect it to host inter-cultural events and also discussions about contemporary coexistence […] We plan to launch a dialogue with the public and help improve relations [between minorities and the majority population],” MRK director Jana Horváthová told CTK.

MRK organizers expect an inflow of both domestic and foreign visitors. From the Centre, visitors may also travel to the new Roma Holocaust Memorial in Lety, south Bohemia, which is currently being prepared.

The establishment of the Prague Centre is a part of a four-year project that started in March and runs through end-February 2024. Financed from Norway Grants, it will cost 44.6 million crowns, including 28 million to be spent on the reconstruction and refurbishing of the Prague-Device villa.

The project’s five-year sustainability was a condition for the Norway Grants to support it, the Centre’s head, Olga Vlčková said.

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The villa was built after the design of architects Arnost Muhlstein and Victor Furth in 1936-37 for textile manufacturer Leo Frantisek Perutz, who died in Auschwitz in 1944. In recent years, it has been vacant and occasionally used by film crews. MRK acquired it from the state last year.

Vit Benda, from the Rujbr Architects studio, who has designed the new Centre, said the villa is in relatively good technical condition, with a number of original elements that will be preserved. The building will be extended to contain a reception hall and a room for 50 visitors. On the first floor, there will be another hall, smaller rooms and offices, while the attic will host a gallery.

Norwegian ambassador to Prague Robert Kvile said he believes that the Centre will operate as an arena of education and a place of meetings and will help boost integration and prevent outbursts of hate.

Čeněk Růžička, who heads the Committee for the Romany Holocaust Compensation, said he sees and strongly dislikes a feeling of superiority over Roma within Czech society, and would not like anti-Gypsy moods to become an ideology.

“We need institutions that would present the traditional Roma culture,” Ruzicka said.

The MRK was established as a civic group in 1991 and became a state-subsidized organisation in 2005. Besides its seat in Brno and the planned Centre in Prague, it manages the memorials at the sites of the wartime Roma internment camps in Lety and in Hodonin near Kunstat, south Moravia.