Czech Republic: Museum of Romani Culture exhibit shows myths about "gypsies"
On 8 April, International Romani Day, the Museum of Romani Culture in the Czech Republic will open a new exhibit. The topic of this latest offering will be the difference between the actual form of Romani people's way of life and the often romantic ideas that have been created about them in the past by the majority society.
The exhibit juxtaposes historical photographs depicting actual Romani people and their lives with stylized images of Romani people that have primarily been used for amusement. These two different ways of conceiving the same subject illustrate very well the difference between real Romani people and the ideas held about them by non-Roma.
"The authentic illustrations capture the form of Romani people's lives on the territory of Central and Eastern Europe," says Lenka Grossmanová, one of the curators of the exhibition. "We loosely organized them according to various themes - clothing, crafts, music, settlement, and traveling. Today these are a unique resource for us to learn about the lives of ethnic Roma from the end of the 19th century through to the 1930s."
The other type of images is that of stylized postcards. "The gypsy theme has always been a favorite one in the arts," said the exhibit's other curator, Martin Chlup.
"[That theme] references a desire for the exotic, for mysterious, secret things. Some of these little pieces - primarily those inspired by the beauty of Romani women - are very often unintentional kitsch," said Chlup.
The concept of the exhibit and its accompanying text are based on the large-format publication by PhDr. Jana Horváthová, "Devleskere čhave – svedectvom starých pohľadníc" ("Divine Children - The Testimony of Old Postcards"). The exhibit will open on Tuesday, 8 April at 16:00 at the Museum of Romani Culture.
The opening of the exhibit is part of Romani Culture Week, which takes place in Brno from 7 - 12 April. The exhibit will be on display until 21 September.
"Cikánský mýtus" (The Myth of the Gypsy) can be seen Tuesdays through Fridays and on Sundays from 10:00 to 18:00 (the museum is closed Mondays and Saturdays). The Museum is located at Bratislavská 67, Brno - please see www.rommuz.cz or www.facebook.com/Muzeum romské kultury for more information.
About the Museum of Romani Culture
The history of the Museum of Romani Culture goes as far back as 1991, when it was established at the initiative of Romani intellectuals as a non-governmental, non-profit organization. On 1 January 2005 the Museum of Romani Culture became an officially state-sponsored organization.
The Museum administers a collection of objects related to traditional crafts and professions, interior furnishings, clothing and jewelry, fine art, written materials, posters and invitations, audio recordings, photographs, video recordings, etc. It also produces many public events - the annual Night at the Museum, book and music launches of both its own publications and those of others, concerts, discussions and lectures, fashion shows, video screenings, etc.
For children living in the neighborhood of the Museum, there is the Children's Museum Club program, which meets several days a week; school-age children and youth are also able to make use of animated programs that accompany the Museum's exhibits. This is the only museum in Europe dedicated exclusively to the culture and history of Romani people.
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