Databáze uměleckých výstav v českých zemích 1820 – 1950

Exhibition of North Bohemia


Regional exhibitions were among the most important events of rural economic and cultural life in the Czech lands from the end of the 19th century onward. Czech Germans held one such exhibition in Liberec in 1906 (Deutschbömische Ausstellung Reichenberg/German-Czech Exhibition in Liberec) and, as a response, Czechs organized their own show in Mladá Boleslav in 1912. Following the establishment of Czechoslovakia, the town decided to repeat it, this time as an event of national importance. The Exhibition of North Bohemia, as it was called from the very first preparations, aimed to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the local governing bodies in the Czech lands. At the same time, it was meant to present the "frontier phenomenon" and promote the interests of the Czech-speaking population in districts bordering the Sudetenland while documenting the work of the Czech minority within the German territories in Czechoslovakia and the life of Lusatian Serbs in neighbouring Germany. Finally, the show was to demonstrate the ambitions of Mladá Boleslav, a town that had been a budding industrial and cultural centre even before the First World War [Švácha 2007].

However, in the speeches of politicians who opened the exhibition in 1927 and the numerous articles in national and regional periodicals, the declarations of the frontier ethos became subdued. Instead, authors called for cooperation between all nations in the Czechoslovak Republic, a position that prevailed one year later during the large Exhibition of Contemporary Culture in Brno. This was because a year before the Mladá Boleslav show, representatives of a few German political parties joined the Czechoslovak government, making the frontier rhetoric no longer a state interest. It was also absent from the exhibition architecture primarily thanks to its designer, the architect Jiří Kroha. 

At the beginning of 1926, the initiators of the Mladá Boleslav show, headed by the town’s mayor Karel Šerák, decided to house the show in the 1912 exhibition grounds, the surrounding schools, and the local Sokol gym. If necessary, they planned to build a few wooden pavilions [Ryšlinková 2000]. A limited competition was organized for the show’s architectural design. Here, the architect František Janda, Jan Kotěra’s student who had designed the prewar exhibition grounds and won the competition for the regulation plan of Mladá Boleslav in 1921, found its strongest opponent in Jiří Kroha, an employee of the Provincial Committee and from 1925 associate professor of the Brno Technical University. Kroha had designed several large public buildings in Mladá Boleslav, including the Provincial Industrial School (1922-1927), whose newly finished premises became one of the exhibition spaces for the present show. The exhibition committee showed remarkable courage by eventually choosing Kroha because his ideas about exhibition practices were quite innovative. As he later put it in the Horizont magazine, an exhibition must not become a marketplace for presenting goods or a boring museum display. In conceiving its design, the architect must utilize scientific findings about the psychology of perception and generally work in the most scientific way possible [Kroha 1927a]. In line with this conception, Kroha’s exhibition designs for Mladá Boleslav include colour surfaces, diagrams, striking signage, and arrows, all of which he used again a year later in several sections of the Exhibition of Contemporary Culture in Brno.

Any parts of the exhibition that the architect did not place in the existing buildings were installed in light modern wooden pavilions, which Kroha designed with a sense of makeshift aesthetic [Kroha 1927b]. Similar temporary structures housed restaurants of breweries from the Mladá Boleslav surroundings. He also designed sales kiosks and other small architecture for the whole area, as well as an elaborate and visually arresting artificial lighting system. More knowledgeable reviewers suggested that Kroha’s style was influenced by the German Expressionist Erich Mendelsohn [Krejcar 1927], although this was more true for Kroha’s public buildings from the 1920s. Later, critics believed some of the structures at the Exhibition of Northern Bohemia contained allusions to Konstantin Melnikov’s Soviet Pavilion at the 1925 International Exhibition in Paris [Ryšlinková 2000]. Journalists who saw the exhibition were impressed by the joyful, almost fairy-tale-like modernity of Kroha’s work; it “abounds with the charming new forms and cheerful, vibrant colours” [Kolářík - Mrkvička 1927]. Nearly all daily newspapers praised Kroha’s exhibition designs, and two of them – Národní osvobození and České slovo – included the architect’s photographic portrait and a brief bio. The communist daily Rudé právo was the only periodical to publish only a short column about the exhibition. Kroha’s pavilions inspired other exhibition designers at regional shows in Kutná Hora (1928), Litomyšl and Tábor (1929), Pardubice and Louny (1931), and elsewhere. The Exhibition of North Bohemia certainly owed part of its renown and influence to high-profile visitors such as President Masaryk and Prime Minister Antonín Švehla, Prague Mayor Karel Baxa, and the Hradec Králové Mayor František Ulrich, who opened the show along with the ministers Otakar Srdínek and František Peroutka on June 1927.

Kroha’s exhibition architecture and innovative installations were exhibits in their own right. But the Mladá Boleslav show also presented collections of products by the glassblowing school in Železný Brod and the glass institute in Hradec Králové, both placed in the Sokol building, adapted for the purpose by the local architect Vladimír Bolech, a student of Jože Plečnik. The Provincial Industrial School housed the exhibition of fine arts. Here, visitors could see works by artists who were either born in North Bohemia or created their artworks there, such as Jan Kupecký, Quido Mánes, Alois Bubák, Julius Mařák, Beneš Knüpfer, Marie Louisa Kirschner, and Stanislav Sucharda. Contemporary artists were also represented, including Bohumil Kafka, Karel Boháček, Milada Špálová, Božena Vohánková, and Pravoslav Kotík [Anonymous author 1927a]. The day before the opening of the exhibition, the daily Mladoboleslavské listy published a report saying that the exhibition committee had consulted the Prague art historian Antonín Matějček about the selection of artworks [Anonymous author 1927b]. Further on, the article proudly declared that the Exhibition of Northern Bohemia brought together “the largest and most valuable collection of artworks ever exhibited in the Czech rural regions.” At the end of July 1927, the Prague daily Tribuna agreed “with much appreciation” that this, indeed, was the case.

Rostislav Švácha

Works Cited

Anonymous author 1927a: Výtvarné umění na výstavě severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi, Tribuna IX, no. 179, 31. 7. 1927, p. 5

Anonymous author 1927b: Anonymous author, Nejpočetnější a nejhodnotnější soubor uměleckých děl, jaký kdy byl vystavován na českém venkově (…), Mladoboleslavské listy XL, no. 49, 18. 6. 1927, p. 2

Kolářík – Mrkvička 1927: J. Kolářík – Otakar Mrkvička, Mladá Boleslav, Lidové noviny XXXV, no. 308, 19. 6. 1927, p. 27

Krejcar 1927: K. [Jaromír Krejcar], Výstavě severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi, ReD I, 1927–1928, p. 43

Kroha 1927a: Prof. arch. Jiří Kroha, Výstava severních Čech 1927 v Mladé Boleslavi, Horizont I, 1927, pp. 93–98

Kroha 1927b: Jiří Kroha, Několik poznámek k výstavní architektuře, Horizont I, 1927, pp. 99–100

Ryšlinková 2000: Helena Ryšlinková [Musilová], Dílo architekta Jiřího Krohy v prvním desetiletí Československé republiky, Brno v minulosti a dnes: Sborník příspěvků k dějinám a výstavbě Brna XV, Brno 2000, pp. 313–379 (341–349)

Švácha 2007: Rostislav Švácha, Jiří Kroha a Mladá Boleslav, 1922–1927, in: Marcela Macharáčková (ed.), Jiří Kroha v proměnách umění 20. století 1893–1974: architekt – malíř – designér – teoretik (katalog výstavy v Muzeu města Brna), Brno 2007, pp. 81–133 (121–128)

Archival Sources

State District Archives in Mladá Boleslav, fonds 30/11; Brno City Museum, estate of Jiří Kroha

Exhibiting authors

Catalogue of the Exhibition of North Bohemia 1927 in Mladá Boleslav


Publisher: Exhibition committee

Place and year of publication: Mladá Boleslav 1927

Author/s of the introduction:Kraus Václav
Reviews in the press

Anonymous author, Mladá Boleslav a Výstava severních Čech, České slovo XIX, no. 152, 26. 6. 1927, p. 14


Anonymous author, Výstava českého severu v Mladé Boleslavi, Venkov XXII, no. 146, 21. 6. 1927, p. 3


Anonymous author, Výtvarné umění na výstavě severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi, Tribuna IX, no. 179, 31. 7. 1927, p. 5


Václav Kraus, generální jednatel výstavy severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi, Výstava severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi I, Národní listy LXVII, no. 171, 23. 6. 1927, p. 2


Václav Kraus, Výstava severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi II, Národní listy LXVII, Večerník-Národ, no. 173, 25. 6. 1927, p. 16

Krejcar Jaromír

K. [=Jaromír Krejcar], Výstavě severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi, ReD I, 1927–1928, p. 43

Views of the exhibition
Brief notes about the exhibition

Anonymous author, Výstava severních Čech – Zemská výstava české samosprávy, Výstava menšin českého severu (…) zahájena bude v neděli dne 19. června, Mladoboleslavské listy XL, no. 49, 18. 6. 1927, pp. 1–2

Anonymous author, Zakončení Výstavy severních Čech, Mladoboleslavské listy XL, no. 71, 3. 9. 1927, p. 2

Anonymous author, Ministr obchodu dr. F. Peroutka na výstavě v Mladé Boleslavi, Národní listy LXVII, no. 169, 21. 6. 1927, p. 2

Anonymous author, Inženýrský sjezd v Mladé Boleslavi, Národní listy LXVII, no. 176, 28. 6. 1927, p. 1

Anonymous author, Na Výstavě severních Čech, Jizeran XLVIII, no. 27, 2. 7. 1927, p. 2

Anonymous author, Nadšené uvítání pana presidenta T. G. Masaryka v Mladé Boleslavi, Jizeran XLVIII, no. 28, 16. 7. 1927, pp. 1–2

Anonymous author, [Výstava severních Čech], Právo lidu VI, no. 130, 23. 6. 1927, p. 2 

Anonymous author, Slavnostní zahájení výstavy sever. Čech v Mladé Boleslavi, Ránopondělník Národních listů no. 28, 20. 6. 1927, p. 1

Anonymous author, Výstava české samosprávy v Mladé Boleslavi, Rudé právo VIII, no. 159, 6. 7. 1927, p. 5

Anonymous author, Mladá Boleslav, Světozor XXVII, 1927, no. 37, pp. 731–732

Anonymous author, Výstava severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi zahájena, Tribuna IX, no. 140, 20. 6. 1927, p. 1

Anonymous author, Primátor Baxa do českých menšin, Tribuna IX, no. 161, 9. 7. 1927, p. 3

Anonymous author, President republiky na výstavě v Ml. Boleslavi, Národní osvobození IV, no. 190, 11. 7. 1927, p. 1

Anonymous author, President republiky a předseda vlády na výstavě českého severu v Mladé Boleslavi, Tribuna IX, no. 155, 11. 7. 1927, evening edition, pp. 1–2

Václav Kraus, Přípravy na výstavu, Mladoboleslavské listy XXXIX, no. 15, 24. 2. 1926, p. 1

Václav Kraus, Živnostenstvo a výstava v Mladé Boleslavi, Jizeran XLVIII, no. 13, 27. 3. 1926, p. 1

Jiří Kroha, Zvláštní vlak do Mladé Boleslavi, České slovo XIX, no. 145, 18. 6. 1927, p. 3

Karel Šerák, Výstava severních Čech, Obrana lidu XIX, no. 49, 10. 12. 1926, p. 1

-čk [Karel Bečka], Slavnostní zahájení Výstavy severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi, Jizeran XLVIII, no. 26, 25. 6. 1927, p. 1

Schz, Severočeská výstava v Mladé Boleslavi, Lidové noviny XXXV, no. 309, 20. 6. 1927, p. 2

Čsl. novináři v Mladé Boleslavi; Výtvarné umění na výstavě, Mladoboleslavské listy XL, no. 48, 15. 6. 1927, p. 1

Bohumil Mühlstein, Severní Čechy se představují, Národní osvobození IV, no. 168, 19. 6. 1927, pp. 1–2

Zkz, Zahájení výstavy severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi, Národní osvobození IV, no. 169, 20. 6. 1927, p. 1

čch, Mladá Boleslav, Pestrý týden II, 1927, no. 26, pp. 10–11

Ant. Nečásek, Výstava v Mladé Boleslavi, Venkov XXII, no. 145, 19. 6. 1927, p. 1

-ek, Slavnostní zahájení výstavy, Venkov XXII, no. 146, 21. 6. 1927, p. 3

-sn-, Výstava severních Čech v Mladé Boleslavi. (Pův. zpráva >Venkova<), Venkov XXII, no. 152, 28. 6. 1927, p. 4

JE● [Jan E. Koula], Horizont, Stavba VI, 1927–1928, pp. 65–66

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