The Oldest Public Museum
in the Czech Republic
The CEO of the Silesian Museum in Opava is Mgr. Jana
Horáková, one of the few women professionally
interested in military history. The Silesian Museum, the
oldest public museum on the territory of the current
Czech Republic, promotes the history of Czech Silesia
in very attractive forms. Horáková directs the museum
towards the presentation of our history as well as
introducing the flora of our region in the Nový Dvůr
We know that military history is your great hobby. How
did you become interested in this field?
My father was a soldier and he turned my attention to
military history. My parents had two daughters: my sister
was a gentle, sensitive girl who got all the dolls to play with.
I was quite a maverick, Dad bought me toy cars and tanks,
taught me to shoot, go fishing, carve a willow whistle. He
taught me a love for history generally. He used to take me
sightseeing to castles, chateaus and museums. He had
a large bookcase with numerous books on WW2. When
I grew older, I read all of them and my future focus was
clear. Having finished university, I taught at elementary
school for two years before my love for military history
finally took over. For many years I was the manager of
the Second World War Memorial (Národní památník II.
světové války) in the village of Hrabyně.
You head a museum with a very long tradition in mapping
the history of Silesia. What is its topical mission?
The Silesian Museum is the oldest public museum on the
territory of the current Czech Republic; it was established
in 1814. There are 2,400,000 exhibition items which
make it the third-biggest museum in the country, and
imply the current mission and task: to acquire, maintain,
and professionally process the items in the collection,
open the expositions to the public through permanent
expositions and exhibits as well as cultural and educational
programmes and lectures for all age groups. The museum
is a scientific-research institution too; its experts and
scientists process a range of research projects in social
and natural sciences as well as in museological research
and the research of the preservation of collections. To
give some particular examples, my colleagues study the
history of Czech Silesia from the prehistoric era up to
the present, local and international anti-Nazi resistance,
and the evolution of ethnic relations in Silesia and North
Moravia. The museum works in a wide range of scientific
and research jobs whose results are presented to the expert
and lay public in numerous publications and, of course,
Will you tell us what the CEO of a museum does after
work? How do you relax and spend your leisure time
when it does not take you back to work?
I do not have much free time not because I cannot clear
my schedule but that’s also because I do not want to. I am
a CEO and curator of militaria and the administrator of
the estates of General Heliodor Píka and his son, General
Milan Píka. I spend my weekends in the depository and
pore over documents; these days I am preparing an edition
of Heliodor Píka’s mail.
You may sometimes meet me with detection equipment
in the fields and forests where and our archaeologists and
I follow the traces of the Ostrava-Opava Offensive. I go
to the fields with scientists; I am keen on geology, and we
monitor abandoned buildings and settlements in Silesia
so that they will not be forgotten. That is where people
lived and they belong to the memory of the land. Silesian
landscapes are charming and rich in history. I feel privileged
to work in the museum and to have brilliant colleagues
who are my teachers and instructors.
Thank you for the interview.
Foto: Karin Zadrick
POSITIV 1/2020 ǀ 39