17 Nov 1989 - 7 Mar 2003

The Velvet Revolution

Museum T. G. Masaryk Lany

The Impulse for the Foundation of the T. G. Masaryk Museum in Lány

The events known as the Velvet Revolution marked a turning point in the history of our country, bringing many important changes. After November 1989, with democracy and freedom restored, our history could finally be told as it really happened, and for the first time in many years, we could once more, without fear of punishment, declare allegiance to our heritage of democracy and freedom and celebrate the original symbols of the Czechoslovak state. The founding ideas of democracy and freedom on which the Czechoslovak Republic was built came to be symbolized once more in the person of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first Czechoslovak president.

The first Czechoslovak president  T. G. Masaryk
T. G. Masaryk´s tomb in the cemetery of Lany

The Lány Chateau was chosen as the summer residence of President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk in 1921, and from that time onward it has been indelibly linked to his personality and legacy. The first president of Czechoslovakia took a great liking to Lány and would often refer to it as his home. Moreover, Lány’s unostentatious rural cemetery became the last resting place of T. G. Masaryk, his wife Charlotte and their children Jan and Alice.

Unfortunately, during the Second World War and for many years after 1948, the year of the Communist coup, it was impossible – indeed, it was a criminal offense – to publicly commemorate or pay homage to the first Czechoslovak president. Nevertheless, we have records that show that many people would visit Lány every year to pay tribute to T. G. Masaryk’s memory in person.

Things would not change until after the 1989 revolution, when the people of (then still) Czechoslovakia could at last begin once more to publicly declare their allegiance to Masaryk’s legacy.

Badge which was worn by sympathizers of revolution in November 1989

Back then significant actions happened in Lany as well. To the village environment the information were getting slower than today and the reactions weren't that radical as in near revolutionary Prague but even so here the Civic forums started to form themselves.

People started to agree openly with ideals of the first czechoslovakian president.

The memory of T. G. Masaryk was being honored during the revolutionary days and long time afterwards by hundreds of people who came to do so here in Lany.

Portrait of Vaclav Havel, who was elected president of freed Czechoslovakia on the 29th December 1989, was favourite motiv of badges.
Badge which was worn by sympathizers of the Velvet Revolution.. Solidarność (Solidarity) was significant Polish social movement which stand up to the communist régime in eightees of 20th century
Badge which was worn by sympathizers of Velvet revolution. Portrait of first Czechoslovakian presiden has been shown on similar badges and it symbolized the freedom and democracy.

In this atmosphere, Lány hosted an event that attracted considerable attention. At the beginning of 1990, members of Lány’s Civic Forum branch joined forces with the local branch of Sokol (Falcon), a patriotic gymnastics movement, to organize in Sokol’s local community center an exhibition dedicated to the memory of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first Czechoslovak president. The modest-sized exhibition, which included mainly various loaned items, documents and photographs, was enthusiastically received by local inhabitants and visitors alike. With this event over, Lány’s Municipal Authority went on to move the exhibition around the town for several years, retiring it in 1997.

The Founding Charter of the Masaryk Foundation in Lány

The Founding Charter of the Masaryk Foundation in Lány

Masaryk’s legacy

The first president of the Czechoslovak Republic, T. G. Masaryk, left behind a rich moral, intellectual and political legacy. His grand ideas of humanity, democracy and culture are possessed of an enduring currency. In outline, they can be expressed by a selection of his principles:

Happy is he whose life abounds with rich substance; happy is he who through honest effort is able, if only in part, to realize his ideals. Every person, whatever his stature, can contribute to the building up of Czechoslovak democracy. To work means to resist evil – and to do so consistently. Bringing up involves the molding of character.

So that we too may, in our own modest way, contribute to the resurrection and realization of these ideas, the representatives of the Civic Forum of the city of Stochov and the representatives of the Civic Forum of the Municipality of Lány – places with a geographical connection to Masarykian traditions – have decided to found the “Masaryk Foundation”, which shall be based in Lány.

The Purpose and Aims of the Foundation

1. Establishment of a T.G.M. Museum in Lány

In the first stage, the Foundation shall strive to collect all extant materials regarding T. G. Masaryk, in particular those originating from Lány and its environs. In the next stage, the Foundation, after having established cooperation with the Masaryk Society and the Office of the President of the Republic and arrived at a joint position, shall aim to build in Lány a worthy and thoughtfully situated structure that shall serve as a museum, a reading room and a store for books and promotional materials of high aesthetic and content value.

2. Educational activities

Instruction in foreign languages (especially for the young), philosophy and history.

Recruitment of instructors and acquisition of teaching materials.

Arrangement of contacts with entities abroad.

The Founding Charter of the Masaryk Foundation in Lány

3. Publishing activities

The publishing of high-quality promotional materials that could help today’s young people discover and explore T. G. Masaryk’s oeuvre. Possibly also, collaboration with other entities to republish T. G. Masaryk’s oeuvre.

Technical details:

the foundation is based in Lány account with Státní spořitelna in Lány mail contact, mailbox in Lány the Civic Forum branches of both municipalities shall appoint 6 persons to the preparatory committee, each municipality appointing 3 persons amount of initial contribution agreed to be:

Civic Forum of Lány 1 000

Civic Forum of Stochov 1 000

The form of other contributions shall be agreed at a later date.

Participation by both Civic Forum branches shall be based on complete equality.

The foundation was founded in Lány on February 12, 1990 by:

On behalf of the Civic Forum of Lány:

Milan Bechyně

Jaromír Šilhan

Vlastimil Hořejší

On behalf of the Civic Forum of Stochov:

Jaroslav Žák

Jindřich Sybera

Zdeněk Hromka

Memories of witnesses to the beginnings of the Museum of TG Masaryk in Lany

Witnesses Milan Bechyně, Vlastimil Horejsi a Jaromír Šilhan: 

“We assumed that it is sort of necessary to build exhibition stand with exposition which would be dedicated to president Masaryk. The begins were modest. First exhibition was held in ''the Sokol house'' and continued in so called ''Baťovna''. The foundation for establishment and support of Museum of T. G. M. was founded, museum which will be dignified stand of president Masaryk.

We were thinking about the idea of museum more and more. First we were looking for the building which would be suitable. We were choosing from two alternatives, one was to build entirely new building in front of castle Lany and the second was to reconstruct unused building of baroque granary.

By implementation of reconstruction of granary into museum we have saved an old dilapidated object of historical building and at the same time we have used this building in symbolical level as places for museum and preservation of history and memories.

Members of Civil forum Lany and Civil forum started the Foundation for establishment and support of Museum of T. G. M. by Foundation Chart on 12th February 1990. The foundation for establishment and support of Museum of T. G. M. aimed to build an impressionable dignified object in Lany which will serve as a museum, study, book store and souvenir shop with high aesthetic level.

I think that the commenced journey is great and if it will continue and go through with another ideas the effort will be really successful.”

Chronicler of the village of Lany František Pošta

Mr. František Pošta, the Lany chronicler: 

„After revolucion in 1989 the atmosphere in Lany got easier to breath. That time everything was alowed. Sokol (Sokol is a fraternal organization serving its members with physical fitness programs, cultural activities and life insurance) in cooperation with Civil Forum created exhibiton dedicated to T. G. Masaryk in „the Sokol´s house“. The exhibition lasted for 2 months and it was very popular. Back then we wanted „the Sokol´s house“ to be used for its´ purpose. Back then, we tried to find another place for this exhibition and that´s was beginning of the foundations for current Museum of T. G. Masaryk.“

The great success of the Lány exhibition, which had explored the personality and legacy of T. G. Masaryk, made the people involved wonder whether it might not be a good idea to build in Lány a genuine museum worthy of an intellectual and statesman of European stature. These deliberations led to the creation of the Foundation for the Establishment and Operation of a T. G. Masaryk Museum in Lány. The activities of the foundation enjoyed the support of many famous personalities of our political and cultural life (Ivan Medek, Ivan Kočárník, Josef Wagner, Jaroslav Opat, to name just a few).

Ivan Medek, chancellor of president Václav Havel

Ivan Medek was a Czech journalist, music theorist and critic, a signatory of Charter 77. After his forced emigration to Austria in 1978, he worked for Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. In 1993 - 1996 he worked in the Office of president Vaclav Havel as the director of internal politics and in the years 1996 -1998 he worked as Chancellor of the president. He strongly supported the idea of the Museum of T. G. Masaryk in Lany and has also served on the board of the Foundation for estabilishment and support of Museum of  T. G. M. in Lány

Ivan Medek´s membership confirmatioin for Committee of foundation of Museum of T. G. Masaryk in Lány
Managing board of Foundation for estabilishment and support of Museum of  T. G. M. in Lány
Managing board of Foundation for estabilishment and support of Museum of T. G. M. in Lány on 25th October 1999 in castle Lány
Membership list Foundation for estabilishment and support of Museum of T. G. M. in Lány

For this project was very important to find professional specified guarantor in the field of Museology. We also needed to think of the operational side of museum for the future. In 1996 Mr. František Povolný, director of Regional museum in Rakovník, entered the Foundation for establishment and support of Museum of T. G. M.

The museum in Rakovník gradually took over activities connected with establishment of Museum in Lány. The exhibition hall of Tomáš Garrique Masaryk in hotel Classic was the pilot project of those activities from July 1998.

Draft of equestrian statue of T. G. Masaryk, one of the oldest collection objects of Museum of T. G. Masaryk in Lány
One of the first original exhibition hall of Museum of T. G. M. in Lány at the hotel Classic in Lány
One of the first original exhibition hall of Museum of T. G. M. in Lány at the hotel Classic in Lány

At the same time the search for suitable building for newly established museum began. The building of historical baroque multi- storey granary situated near by Castle Lány was selected. Ing. Architect Michal Sborwitz is the author of this modern and innovated reconstruction of interier of the original granary building,

The reconstruction works started in 1997. The roof was finished in 1998. And in 1999 the adjustments inside the building took over (metal constructions, installation of stairways and bridges). In the end of year 1999 reconstruction works were interrupted due to shortage of finance.

Museum T. G. M. in Lány appearance during reconstruction
Letter from president Václav Havel to support funding of Museum of T. G. M. in Lány
Museum T. G. M. in Lány appearance during reconstruction
Museum T. G. M. in Lány appearance during reconstruction
Museum T. G. M. in Lány appearance during reconstruction

Regional museum in Rakovník (todays Museum of T. G. M. in Rakovník) with it’s director František Povolný finally raised the money needed for reconstruction works which were finished by end of 2002. On March 7, 2003, the new museum was officially inaugurated.

Museum of T. G. Masaryk in Lány inaguration held 7th March 2003. From left: František Povolný, director of Museum of T. G. Masaryk in Rakovník, Ivan Medek, Chancellor of President Václav Havel and Petr Bendl, Central Bohemia Commissioner

When the museum opened its doors to the public, the Foundation for the Establishment and Operation of a T. G. Masaryk Museum in Lány had fulfilled the purpose of its existence and subsequently decided to gradually wind down its activities. The newborn “T. G. Masaryk Museum in Lány” went on to become an important branch of the District Museum of Rakovník – now called the T. G. M. Museum of Rakovník – which assumed the considerable burdens of operating the museum building and – what is even more important – of creating professional and modern exhibits. The fact that the museum was successfully built up into a professional institution with attractive exhibits is mainly due to the efforts of the former director of what was originally called the District Museum of Rakovník, now called the T. G. M. Museum of Rakovník – Mgr. František Povolný.

T. G. Masaryk Museum in Lány.  Current appearance of the Museum of T. G. M. Equestrian statue of T. G. Masaryk made by Petr Novák from Jaroměř has been installed in the front of Museum of T. G. M in Lány in March 2010.
T. G. Masaryk Museum in Lány - street view
Credits: Story

Curator — Magdalena Elznicová Mikesková
Curator — Daniela Vokounová

Credits: All media
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