Alas, Little Village readers, I have made a mistake. I misunderstood the docents at the wonderful Alphonse Mucha exhibit and relayed the wrong information about the exhibit’s final date. The last day to see this exhibit was Monday, Dec. 31. I do apologize and regret the error. However, just because Mucha exhibit has left, do not let that stop you from a trip to the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids.
Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) is best known for his illustrations and poster art used as advertisements for shows in Paris. He designed iconic posters for Moet & Chandon champagne and JOB tobacco, among other products. The famed actress Sarah Bernhardt commissioned Mucha to design the advertising posters for her performances.
But Mucha’s talents extended beyond poster art. He created designs for jewelry, carpets and wallpaper. What was deemed the “Mucha Style” became something greater—“Art Nouveau.”
The exhibit is divided into six sections and explores Mucha not just as the father of Art Nouveau, but also Mucha’s Moravian roots, his family, his photography and his devotion to the Slav people. There are over 230 items in the exhibit and Cedar Rapids is the only location in the United States to have Mucha Foundation collection in its entirety.
For those of us in Iowa City, a visit to the National Czech and Slovak Museum also brings hope of the return of the University of Iowa arts campus. The flood of 2008 nearly destroyed the 1995 building and the collections housed within. Books and artifacts, including a vast vinyl record collection, were cleaned, repaired and restored by the Chicago Conservation Center and the University of Iowa Libraries’ Conservation Lab. In 2011 the building, with the help of Expert House Movers from St. Louis, was moved from its location near the Cedar River. The museum and library now sits 480 feet away from the original site and 11 feet higher (three feet above the 2008 Flood level). This was my first visit to NCSML, but it will not be my last.