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Collection for Kaplický’s library has begun

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National Library by Jan Kaplický. (ČTK)National Library by Jan Kaplický. (ČTK)
Even after Kaplický’s death, some Czechs have not given up on the possibility of having a National Library based on his design built in Prague.

A foundation, now awaiting the approval of public collection, was established in December.

“We would like to finance the budget for a study proving that the library can be constructed. We want the abused arguments claiming the library to cost CZK 10 billion to be repealed. The study is the only way of showing whether the project is constructible at all and also how much it would cost,” Jan Kasl, co-founder of the foundation, told Aktuálně.cz.

The foundation is also led by the documentarist Olga Sommerová and Ivo Mathé, former head of Czech TV who is now to become head of Academy of Performing Arts. Screenwriter and director Jan Svěrák, the painter Jiří Černický and designer Alan Záruba are sitting on the board of trustees.

It will be hard without Kaplický

The foundation founders admit that it will be difficult to launch the collection without Jan Kaplický.

“Right now, the collection’s fate is unclear. We need to give it some time to calm down. We are all shaken by what happened to Jan,” Kasl said.

More than a hundred years ago the Czechs collected money for the burnt-down National Theatre. The collection organisers put together one million golden coins in 47 days.

Kasl does not want to guess how much the potential collection might bring now. “And it also does not mean that we would be able to build the library,” Kasl said.

The collection has not yet been announced since it is waiting for the approval of the financial office and Prague City Hall.

“We have sent the applications and now we are awaiting the decision. We will see what comes next,” said Kasl.

Politicians against blob

It was obvious right from the start when the former head of the National Library Valstimil Ježek announced the results of the international tender that the Kaplický’s project will become an object of passionate discussions. The tender was won by Kaplický’s studio Future Systems despite failing to meet the conditions of the tender.

A chain of lawsuits from the unsuccessful tender participants and architects, who mostly asked for a new tender, began. Statements made by President Václav Klaus were the key factor, however. Klaus said he wanted to chain himself to the digger getting the foundations of the library ready. He expressed his disapproval of blob in Prague.

It was mostly the Prague ODS politicians who did all they could to complicate the process. They partly succeeded. The possibility of building the National Library on Letná, just like Kaplický wanted it, was frustrated. City representatives decided that the park will remain there with new benches and ponds.

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