Whilst visiting Prague for two days to see my piece of work in the Mini Textiles Exhibition, I couldn’t believe my luck in finding a large exhibition at the National Museum of Prague entirely about death. I had to visit!
‘Smrt’ is the Czech word for death and what an amazing word, for me this really encapsulates death.
The exhibition was spread over three large spaces each specifically themed.
The life and death within the history of the earth.
This section explores an archaeological examination of the beginnings of life and death. it introduces the first evidence of burial as well as animal behaviour surrounding death, humans are the only species to bury their dead or indeed do anything with their dead. This section also explored the rituals surrounding burial including burial goods items added with a loved one that was believed to help their journey to the next life.
Images of death
This section of the exhibition was focused on historical reasons for death. War, executions, disease, terminal illness, epidemics, murder, suicide.
Dealing with death and funeral rituals
This last section had displays of items from funerals and dealt with how we prepare the dead for burial. It also touched on current western detachment from death. This was really interesting as I think that this is why I have a particular interest. Our ideas in the west are that we have failed if someone dies and we cannot medically intervene to save them. Medicine has advanced so quickly and we have the feeling that most things can be cured, but we do forget that dying is a natural and inevitable process and that no amount of medical care can save us in the end. The Czech Republic are attempting to move to more hospice care for the dying and this exhibition is a way of addressing the dislocation of our association of death.
A really fascinating exhibition that was an amazing find!