LOBKOWICZ LIBRARY & STUDY CENTER
Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, Nelahozeves Castle, owned by the Lobkowicz family since 1623, is soon to be reborn as an international music and cultural center, celebrating the family’s history of musical patronage and scholarship. Their unique collections of fine art, musical manuscripts, decorative arts and historic books will be preserved for future generations in a dedicated storage building and the new international study center will be open to scholars, students, and the general public. A Masterplan for the project has been completed by renowned UK architects Wright & Wright.
The Lobkowicz Library and Study Center will be an international center for the study of European cultural heritage, in partnership with universities throughout the world. Nelahozeves Castle will be a place where students and scholars not only read about history and culture but also where history and culture come alive.
The handsome Baroque birth house of world-renowned composer Antonín Dvořák will also be brought to life with a new exhibition about the composer’s life, and accommodation and practice space for music scholars. The 7th Prince Lobkowicz is known worldwide for enabling Ludwig van Beethoven to compose his most famous symphonies. The Lobkowicz family wants to build on this history of nurturing musical talent and patronage.
LOBKOWICZ LIBRARY & STUDY CENTER
After decades of neglect, the Lobkowicz family has worked hard to restore and protect their family’s unrivaled collections of fine and decorative arts, as well as the famous Lobkowicz library and archive. However, the Collections urgently need to be relocated to proper storage facilities and deserve the attention of international scholars and conservators.
The Lobkowicz Study Center and Library will provide dedicated storage for all the Collections built to the highest international standards. The facility will be housed underground on the site of a former quarry adjacent to the neighboring Skala (‘Rock’) Building. Underground construction creates ideal passive storage conditions because the ground is environmentally stable, making it low-energy, low-maintenance and low-cost. The underground building will be linked to the castle, making it possible to move material efficiently and safely between the castle and the archive. Disturbing the collection as little as possible is crucial to its long-term preservation. Two new conservation studios will provide Lobkowicz Collections curators with dedicated conservation facilities for the first time.
The elegant form of the new Study Center building above ground harmonizes naturally with its surroundings. The simple form recalls traditional farm buildings around the estate. Inside, a double-height Reading Room for scholars and students will offer space for research, discovery and contemplation, with views reaching out across the castle and gardens, down to the Vltava River. The Lobkowicz Library and Study Center will take advantage of the latest digital technologies to enhance the study and dissemination of the Collections. For example, seminar and webinar rooms will offer additional space for simultaneous discussion and debate for scholars from across the world. Two other multi-functional rooms will provide creative play spaces for young visitors.
The Skala Building, a former carriage house, will be transformed into a Visitor Center, welcoming tourists and visitors with a café, ticket office and retail opportunities. Green pathways and beautiful landscaping will guide guests between the Visitor Center, Castle, Study Center and the Dvorak House Museum.
“The new proposals for the Cultural Centre at Nelahozeves Castle are truly exciting. The British architect Clare Wright and her team will bring out the great heritage of the Castle and the birth house of Dvořák, transforming the space to allow for cultural events and scholarship. Her brilliant work in refurbishing and extending the Longwall Library in Magdalen College Oxford has deservedly won several leading architectural prizes. Her innovative design brought with great sensitivity the touch of the 21st century into a group of buildings over 550 years old.”
Professor Sir David Clary FRS
Magdalen College, Oxford
Rendering of the main Reading Room of the Lobkowicz Library and Study Center
DVOŘÁK HOUSE MUSEUM & MUSIC ACADEMY
The renowned Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was born in the village of Nelahozeves. Son of the local butcher, the young Dvořák grew up above a tavern opposite the butcher’s shop, listening to the noise of revelry mingle with the sounds of the Vltava River and the steam train passing through the village on its way to Prague. The church of St Andrew, opposite, marks the site of his first public performance on the violin. Dvořák’s music, which later captured so well the spirit of the “New World” in his 9th Symphony, was deeply rooted in his Bohemian homeland.
The Dvořák House is an important destination for lovers of Dvořák’s music worldwide. A new museum on the ground floor will explore the evolution of the young composer, and especially the environment that influenced his early musical development. The exhibitions will emphasize interactive and experiential displays, encouraging visitors of all ages to participate and engage with music-making. There will also be a ‘musical’ playground outside on the village green, nearby the Antonín Dvořák monument.
The Dvořák Music Academy will be situated in the historic atmosphere of the composer’s first home. The new academy, housed in the first floor of the Dvořák House and in a new building, will offer a unique place to study, practice and experience master classes with top international musicians. The new building, nestled neatly into the hillside behind the house, will provide accommodation for scholars and young musicians. This simple, modern building will be made from traditional materials, harmonizing with the local environment. In addition to accommodation, there will be a large common room, accessible from the village square, which will be made available for community events such as children’s music activities. Careful landscaping will articulate the relationship between the Dvořák House across to the Study Center and Nelahozeves Castle, majestically situated above the village square.
“The four greatest influences on Dvořák’s music – nature, the organ, the river and the railroad, were all within fifty meters of his birthplace. In Nelahozeves those sounds inspired Dvořák. He remembered and recorded those sounds the rest of his life …”
Paul Polansky, “The Dvořák Search”,
Introduction to Otakar Dvořák’s Antonín Dvořák, My Father
Wright & Wright will connect the Nelahozeves landscape, from the Music Academy, to the Dvořák House Museum, to Zámek Nelahozeves
The magnificent castle at Nelahozeves is an outstanding example of the flowering of Italian Renaissance architecture in Bohemia. It was bought by Princess Polyxena Pernstejn Lobkowicz in 1623 but suffered considerable damage during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Later generations of the family used the castle variously as an administrative center, a convent and most recently as a family home until it was confiscated in 1948. Over the years, the castle was altered and repaired and, after a major restoration during Communist times, it was re-opened as a regional art gallery. Unfortunately, this has considerably altered some of the original characters of the castle. The interior now needs sensitive work to restore it to its former glory, and the 16th century black and white sgraffito on the exterior is urgently in need of attention.
This project will make the Castle the beating heart of Nelahozeves once again. The castle will work in conjunction with the new Library and Study Center as a place for world-class events, including music performances, lectures, international festivals, and conferences. The former staterooms on the first floor, known as the ‘Paradise Rooms’, will be opened up and restored for public and private events, while smaller rooms around the castle will be used as study, rehearsal or seminar rooms. The museum on the second floor will be redesigned and reinstalled, drawing on the latest scholarship and presentation techniques. A new restaurant will open on the ground floor, making use of the courtyard, with connections out to the terrace and the landscaped south and east-facing gardens. A key ambition of this project is to re-establish and strengthen the Castle’s relationship with the beautiful surrounding landscape and river vistas.
“The Nelahozeves Castle project has everything going for it. It restores a great Czech landmark; it honors the nation’s greatest musician – Dvorak; it houses learning, archives and facilitates inquiry and discovery; it revives a district; it will stand as a beacon for the historic culture of central Europe. As a Czech from birth, I can’t wait for the dream to be realized.”
Sir John Tusa
Co-Chairman, European Youth Orchestra
Previously Chairman, University of the Arts, London;
Managing Director, Barbican Arts Centre, London; Managing Director, BBC World Service
Bird’s-eye view of Nelahozeves following its transformation
- Lobkowicz Collections o.p.s
- Wright & Wright Architects
- City Design International
- Ateliér Krejčiříkovi
- Dominic Cole Landscape Design
- Gleeds International
- McKinsey & Company
- Dentons Europe CS LLP
Rendering of the gardens and new Visitor’s Center housed in the Skala Building