Tourism Cedar Rapids Blog

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Connecting People to Czech and Slovak History and Culture

Connecting People to Czech and Slovak History and Culture

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year from across the country and around the world, to learn about and celebrate Czech & Slovak culture through innovative experiences and interactive exhibits. 

A National Smithsonian Affiliate, the stately museum with the red roof on the bank of the Cedar River is an iconic landmark of strength and resiliency. Museum guests can explore permanent exhibits including Faces of Freedom and an authentic immigrant home from the 1890s, along with other exhibits throughout the year. 

The Skala Bartizal Library actively collects materials that document Czech and Slovak history and culture within both European and American contexts. The main languages of the collection are English, Czech and Slovak. The library attracts scholars and authors, as well as Czech- and Slovak-Americans looking to research their family heritage. Library staff is available to assist visitors with both quick questions and substantial research projects. For on-site research assistance with librarians, it is recommended that appointments be booked at least two business days in advance.

Your Next Event

NCSML is a premier space for big and small events in Eastern Iowa, facilitating company meetings, cocktail receptions, weddings, and more. Facility features include colorful, elegant interiors; beautiful areas for photos and videography; A/V equipment and internet access; and complimentary indoor and outdoor parking. Rental spaces include big halls and a terrace that can accommodate hundreds, and a state-of-the-art 51-seat theater for presentations and film screenings. Service options include a full-service bar with bartenders as well as wedding party dressing rooms. The NCSML works with popular local caterers and can help arrange culinary options with a Czech & Slovak flair!

What's in Store

The NCSML’s Store is as expertly curated as its exhibitions and library archives. Named the National Store of the Year by the Museum Store Association in 2020, the unique shop is a direct link to Czech & Slovak culture. The store features hand-made folk art collectibles, glass ornaments and classic garnet jewelry. The wide selection of books includes biographies of famous personalities of Slovak and Czech decent, and cookbooks showcasing koláč, goulash and other favorite recipes. You’ll find puppets, games, books for children, and much more. Of course, any of the specially-made items like Bratislava Blend Coffee and limited-edition ornaments by Marj Nejdl are accessible for purchase from the store’s website.

Select Exhibits in 2022

Faces of Freedom (Permanent)

This 7,000-square foot, state-of-the-art exhibit tells the story of the Czech and Slovak journey to America. See the replica of the steerage section of a steamer ship at the turn of the century and stand in Wenceslaus Square at the height of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. See why these immigrants’ story is everyone’s story.

Amazing Athletes (Feb 12-Jul 24, 2022)

See posters and photos that celebrate the incredible legacy of Czech and Slovak athletes like Alpine skier Petra Vlhová, tennis greats Ivan Lendl and Martina Navrátilová, and hockey star Dominik Hašek. 

Monsters of the Midway: George Halas & the Chicago Bears (Mar 19-Nov 6, 2022)

This exhibit features the life and work of Czech American George Halas, the legendary Chicago Bears owner/coach who also helped found the NFL. Featured artifacts and photos are from the NFL Hall of Fame and the Chicago Bears.

Czech Innovation Expo (Apr 9-Jun 26, 2022)

This interactive experience celebrates the inventions and scientific discoveries of Czechs. Learn the centuries-old history of the Czech Republic’s contributions to science, research and innovation while seeing technological trends of the future. The exhibit itself utilizes augmented reality technology, allowing visitors to point smart devices at objects to see camera images enhanced with graphics and additional information. 

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and WWII (Jul 23-Oct 2, 2022)

This traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History traces the story of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during WWII as well as those who fought bravely in the military. Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were 80 years ago, the exhibition takes a deep look at immigration, prejudice, civil rights, heroism, and what it means to be an American.

Roman Franc (photographer) (Aug-Dec, 2022)

Roman Franc (b. 1983) lives and works in the Czech Republic. He studied photography at the Institute of Art Photography of Silesian University in Opava. He splits his time between teaching photography, editorial projects and his fine art career. Franc’s work is exhibited and collected internationally. 

Mystery and Pageantry: Mardi Gras and Carnival Traditions (Oct 30-Mar 18, 2023)

See Czech and Slovak Carnival masks, necklaces and costumes alongside ornate Mardi Gras regalia from New Orleans. Just like many other countries and cultures that celebrate their own versions of Carnival, the Czechs celebrate Masopust while Slovaks celebrate Fašiangy. The  exhibit features artifacts borrowed from museums in the U.S., the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 

Landscapes: Honza Sakař Photography (Dec-May, 2023)

Honza Sakař’s photography is a modern blend of computer technology and the wet-collodion process that was invented in the 1850s. His work is a counterpoint to digital perfectionism, capturing an otherworldly presence.

 

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
1400 Inspiration Place SW Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
(319) 362-8500  ncsml.org

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