Festive opening of the Museum of Design Bindings
in Loket, Czech Republic is today!
Museum of Design Bookbindings
In the "Black Tower" of Loket
"The Transformation of the Bookbinding Throughout the Ages"
The City of Loket
Created and Organized by:
Jan a Jarmila Sobota
The Association of Czech Bookbinders
A few years ago, an idea was born in the mind of then mayor of Loket Jan Hadrava: What if we started a museum of bookbinding in the romantic Black Tower of Loket? It was a wonderful idea because this romantic, medieval tower is well suited for an exhibit of this ancient and beautiful craft, not only thanks to its architecture, but also because the city of Loket is the headquarters of the bookbinding guild, the Association of Czech Bookbinders. The progress from idea to implementation was quick. The representatives of the city of Loket have entrusted us with the creation of the museum, and current mayor Jiri Kolarik, as well as Vaclav Lojin, director of the Castle of Loket which owns the Black Tower, have supported our work every which way they can. The Association of Czech Bookbinders has gladly become co-organizer of this remarkable project, and therefore the entire bookbinding community and all lovers of beautiful books can finally enjoy an unprecedented exhibit.
The museum will be completed in two phases:
The first phase is finished today, June 21, 2001.
The second phase will be open next year.
The exhibit titled "The Transformation of the Bookbinding Throughout the Ages" begins when you enter the tower's annex building and continues on into the tower. The first part includes panels with reproductions of medieval bindings ranging from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, explanatory text, original artifacts, and facsimiles of historical bindings from various time periods, as well as a display of historical tools. In the level above the entry to the main tower, there are reproductions and a display of restored books and facsimiles from the workshop of bookbinder and book-restorer Jan Sobota. For example, there are several samples of the 232 restored bindings belonging to the Gothic-Renaissance Latin Library of Jachymov. These include a facsimile of the missal of Abbot Zikmund of the Tepla Monastery from the year 1461, and a facsimile of the Zlutice hymnbook from the year 1558 among other interesting items. As we continue up the tower, we enter the final level of the exhibit. The first room on the right contains a small bookbinding workshop from the turn of the 19th/20th century. Visitors can form an impression of the work environment of a hand bookbinder and his tools and materials. Two additional rooms contain a unique collection of bookbindings from the 20th century from prominent deceased, mainly Czech, artistic bookbinders, to contemporary artistic bookbinders from many countries and all age categories.
The second phase of the museum, which will be finished in the year 2002, will include a completion of the collection of 20th century bindings and the creation of facsimiles of historical bindings. Mainly however, it will include a new exhibit full of humor and mystery by the name of "Back to Fantasy - Once Upon a Time". There, visitors will be able to view, among other things, the "Secret Hunting Diary of King Charles IV". (A fictional book, "found" during excavations at the castle. In one of the diary entries, Charles IV describes his hunt for a deer, which led to the discovery of the Carlsbad hot springs and the founding of Carlsbad. The book will be in the format of a large missal, bound in the leather of the "captured deer"). Other curiosities will include other "relics" from the iron, bronze, stone and ice ages. Each time period will include newly created artifacts that fit the unique period.
The museum of bookbinding is not unique only because of its exhibits. The enthusiasm and self-sacrifice of all those who have helped with its creation would instill belief in the goodness of the human heart even to the most hardened pessimist. The formation of a permanent exhibit would not have been possible without donations from bookbinders and other owners of interesting books and other bookbinding artifacts. The majority of bookbinders, from the Czech Republic and other countries, whom we approached, have willingly donated their own books as gifts to the museum. Many bookbinders also donated beautiful tools from valuable family collections. Surprisingly, book dealers have also joined in with gifts of bookbinding machines and tools. Some owners of interesting bookbinding artifacts read about the museum, or saw an informative feature about it on television and have voluntarily offered their contribution. We thank all these self-sacrificing and enthusiastic donors in the name of the Loket City Council.
Jan and Jarmila Sobota
357 33 Loket
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