In early 2021, it was announced that Mucha's magnus opus, the Slav Epic (1910-1928), is to go on display in a new permanent home in the historic centre of Prague. The twenty monumental canvases will be displayed in the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Savarin development due to open in 2026. The permanent exhibition will include items from the Mucha family collection, including studies, pastels, drawings, paintings, photographs and documents that accompanied the creation of the Slav Epic.
We caught up with John Mucha, president of the Mucha Foundation and grandson of Alphonse Mucha, to find out more about this exciting new project.
This is a significant milestone for the Foundation that you created with your mother in 1992. What do you think Alphonse would think about this new home for his monumental cycle?
One of Alphonse's unfulfilled dreams was to see the Slav Epic housed in an appropriate, long term home in Prague. He wanted it to be somewhere where not only Czechs but also people from around the world could come together to see the role that the Slavs played in the history that he believed was leading to a utopian vision where people of different backgrounds could respect each others' differences but still live in harmony. Over one hundred years since my grandfather conceived of his Epic, I think he would be proud for it to have found its home at the centre of Prague in a beautiful space, purpose-built to display it in line with his original intention.
Tell us a little more about the collaboration?
We are thrilled that visionary architect Thomas Heatherwick will be designing the exhibition hall for the Slav Epic. Our conversations with the Heatherwick team have shown us that while the architecture will be truly special, my grandfather's work will always be the primary focus. The space will be a three party cooperation between the Mucha Foundation, the City of Prague and Crestyl, the property developer responsible for the new Savarin public space at whose core the new Slav Epic exhibition hall will be. I applaud the vision on the part of all parties in finding a way to fulfil my grandfather's dream.
What other works can visitors expect to see alongside the 20 canvases?
There will be two complementary sections in the exhibition, which we will curate from the Mucha family collection, which is the largest and most comprehensive collection of Mucha's work in the world. The first of these will tell the story of the genesis of the Slav Epic, using studies, posters, photographs, objects and paintings from the family collection. The second will look at the journey Mucha's work took after his death, and his ongoing influence on future generations of artists around the world.
The new space is scheduled to open in 2026. Will Mucha fans need to wait until then to see the Slav Epic?
No! Thanks to the generosity and vision of the City of Prague under their current leadership, the Slav Epic has been returned to Moravsky Krumlov and will be there until the new space in Prague is ready to receive the twenty canvases. Along with the Mucha family, Moravsky Krumlov kept the Slav Epic safe through the darkest days of the twentieth century, and without Moravsky Krumlov it is likely the Epic would not exist today. In my opinion, in the light of this history, it is appropriate and fitting that Moravsky Krumlov should host my grandfather's late masterpiece again until its long term home is ready. Because of COVID, the installation of the Epic in Moravsky Krumlov was been delayed, but it will be open to the public later this summer in a beautifully restored new space that meets the highest international exhibition conditions.