We are building a new Lidice
An exhibition about the construction of the new Lidice, its architecture, interior design and everyday life. It is situated in a one-family house, Osady Ležáků Street, no. 116, Lidice.
The exhibition opens the chapter about the fortunes of the village of Lidice after 1945. The tragic obliteration of Lidice on 10 June 1942 came as a shock to all the world. Immediately monuments were being erected and collection campaigns organized to build a new Lidice. The most significant collection campaign was launched in Stoke-on-Trent in the UK. After the war, a big architectural tender took place and a new Lidice was being built to designs by František Marek, Václav Hilský, Richard Podzemný and Antonín Tenzer. The construction was in the spotlight of prominent political figures, i.a. the controversial minister of interior Václav Nosek. The utopia of architectural concept was colliding with the reality of politics and everyday life. The exhibition We Are Building a New Lidice significantly enhances not only the knowledge of the post-war history of architecture and design but reveals the still virtually unexplored history and political background of the post-war restoration of Czechoslovakia.
The permanent exhibition in the one-family house no. 116 uses the authentic space of one of the original houses built as a part of the development of the new Lidice after 1945.
The exhibition is notionally divided into two zones. The first zone is the area of the original flat where the visitor can see an interior design of the turn of the 1950's and 1960's. The interiors are furnished with original, restored furniture, mostly donated by Lidice inhabitants. So you can visit the living room with a dinette, the kitchen with a pantry, the bathroom with a toilet and the parents' bedroom. The basic furnishings for every house was supplied by the national enterprise Nový Byt. The design of the furniture adhered to the principles formulated at the production plant of U.P. Závody long before, in the 1920's. The unit furniture was ingenious, with its variability and the possibility of adding other units, which fitted in perfectly; they could be put next to one another, on top of each other or used separately. The frequency and way of its use as well as a lesser degree of its presentability reflected in the finish of the kitchen furniture. The most exposed surfaces, such as the top of the kitchen cupboard, were covered with modern plastic. The bedrooms had very practically arranged built-in wardrobes that made full use of the space, up to the ceiling.
The furnishings of the Lidice houses are connected with two exhibitions of interior design that took place in the Protectorate during the war: Bydlení (1942) and Lidový Byt (1943). Also the design of the seating group by the architects Karel Koželka and Antonín Kropáček dates just before the end of WWII and was made in their company České Umělecké Dílny. The seating group consisted of armchairs of three different types and a round coffee table with a glass top. The Lidice interiors got two identical lower armchairs with removable upholstery, strap-woven seats and backs and mildly curved armrests, accompanied with the coffee table. In 1946, this seating group was awarded a silver medal at the Milan Triennial. The same principle of woven seating structure and removable upholstery was used in a dining set consisting of four chairs and a bench, accompanied with an enlargeable dining table.
The second zone of the exhibition consists of intentionally inconspicuous panels. They can be pulled out from behind a cover board. The panels present the theme of the construction of the new Lidice, the memorial site, the Rose Garden etc. Also included is the architectural tender for the construction of the village, which was the first occasion in post-war Czechoslovakia when public architectural competitive tendering took place. There is also discussed the social role of the construction of the new Lidice as part of the building of a new post-war society. From the architectural point of view, there is analysed the morphology of the new village, the search for an ideal layout and the efforts to find an adequate expression of village architecture. Another theme is the personality of Sir Barnett Stross, the founder of the Lidice Shall Live campaign, which significantly contributed to the restoration of Lidice. All that is something like small probes into individual projects and their implementation. The aim is to introduce the viewer into how the post-war generation saw this momentous place of the national history and what physical form of it they preferred.
The original child's room hosts a research room and the library of the Lidice Memorial containing books about Lidice and Ležáky, the Protectorate history, art history literature (literature related to the Lidice Collection, children's creative work and artistic expression etc.) and books published by the Lidice Memorial.
There is another room in the loft, which is dedicated to activities of the education department.
Visitors can enter the adjacent garden, which is conceived as an incomplete restoration of its original model, planted with typical original plant species. Contrary to the original garden, there are no vegetable patches, however, we can find similar woody plants there, e.g. traditional varieties of apple trees and cherry trees, a flower bed with roses and bulbous flowers etc. The garden connects to the adjacent garden of the gallery.
Accessibility for visitors – guided tours only, tickets can be bought at the reception desk of the adjacent Lidice Gallery. Apart from organized programmes, the capacity is 15 visitors at the most. The exhibition is not wheelchair accessible.