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Furthering close and strong ties with the Czech Republic and its people

From the Castle to the Capitol, American Friends of the Czech Republic fosters communication, encourages understanding, invites friendship, and promotes mutual respect between the two countries and their peoples, governments, economic enterprises, and civic and cultural institutions.

Antique Nativity Scene at Smith Gallery at the NCSML-11/2/19 to 2/2/20


November 2, 2019 - February 2, 2020
Smith Gallery
In 2016, the NCSML received a donation of a spectacular Nativity scene that is made up of nearly 1000 hand carved pieces. Most of the pieces were carved in Příbram, Bohemia over 150 years ago, and others were carved by Marie Wimmer between 1924 and 1934. These whimsical and fantastic examples will be on display for the first time during the Christmas 2019 season.

The oldest mention of an exhibited Nativity scene in the Czech lands is from 1562. Although they were initially displayed in churches, Nativity scenes gradually spread into the homes of people and villages as well. Folk creators of Nativity scenes placed the scene of baby Jesus’ birth into the environment which surrounded their villages. They depicted reality and combined it with their ideas of exotic lands, animals and clothing.

There are generally two types and sizes of Nativity scenes: Small scenes were stored in the attic and brought down for Christmas. Larger Nativity scenes with figures had to be assembled every year and took over a large part of a room. Each year one or more new figures might be added to the scene.

The typical Czech/Slovak Nativity scene comprises the following characters: Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar), shepherds and sheep, ox, donkey, and an angel with the inscription Gloria in excelsis Deo. The entire scene is topped with the star of Bethlehem flying across the night sky. Other figures can also be found, including hunters, chimney sweeps, millers, artisans, journeymen, farmers, farm helpers, pub keepers, night watchmen, goats, ducks, and children. The nativity scenes go beyond Bethlehem, and begin to look like a typical Czech or Slovak village.

Sponsored by Western Fraternal Life

1400 Inspiration Place, SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

319-362-8500 x 218

Tuesday, November 5, 2019–Sunday, December 1, 2019
Location:Simonds Pyatt Gallery of European Cultures, Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana, IL
Cost:Free Admission
The work of Czech artist Joža Uprka (1861–1940) documents the folk life of Southern Moravia (now in the eastern half of the Czech Republic). This selection of paintings, on loan from American collector George Drost, accompanies the production of Leoš Janáček's opera "The Adventures of Little Sharp Ears" at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, which also uses Moravian folk costumes and settings. Drost, who lives in Arlington Heights, Illinois, was born in Brno in the Czech Republic and has been collecting Uprka artwork since the 1990s and has amassed a significant collection in the United States.