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Jaroslav Fragner Architectural Gallery has been operating on the grounds of the Bethlehem Chapel since the 1950s. In 2020, the building with the gallery was purchased from Czech Architecture Foundation (NČA) by Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU). In mid-2022, a call for a new director of Jaroslav Fragner Gallery (GJF) was held, and a committee consisting of representatives of CTU and independent experts selected Karolína Plášková. In the last two years, she has been involved, among other things, in the exhibition programme at the Brno Architecture Gallery under the auspices of Faculty of Architecture of Brno University of Technology (FA VUT).

"The aim of the gallery will be to mediate architecture in its social, cultural, economic and legal dimensions. Understanding the context of architecture can contribute to mutual understanding, greater sociability and consideration in society. The projects in the gallery will have a longer-term character and will function as a thematic framework for the accompanying programme - the community building," says Karolína Plášková about the new concept of the gallery.

"The gallery should become a place for meetings and discussions between architects, students, researchers and other related professions such as art, sociology, anthropology, economics, etc., as well as with the general public," says Vojtěch Petráček, Rector of the CTU.

"With regard to the system of financing culture and personal and ecological sustainability, it makes no sense to create pressure for quantitative production. The gallery will present four to five conceptual exhibitions a year, with a varied accompanying programme featured in different formats: lectures, discussions, symposia, workshops, film screenings, and possibly publications," adds Plášková. In 2023, the plans include a presentation of the significance and transformation of the Bethlehem Chapel site and a discussion on the display of architecture, the exhibition "Architecture as Work" on working conditions, a project on housing in Prague, an exhibition on the conservation of Prague's post-war architecture in cooperation with the National Heritage Institute, and finally an exhibition selected by an international jury on the basis of an open call.

The new director of the gallery, Karolína Plášková, is an urban planner and curator. She studied architecture in Brno, Vaduz and Vienna and Social Design - Arts as Urban Innovation in Vienna. She has participated in the organization of many cultural events related to architecture and urbanism, such as the Day of Architecture at the European Capital of Culture in Pilsen (2015), the festival urbanize! in Vienna (2016), and the international conference Plan for Brno (2017). As part of the project "Dear Architects..." (also exhibited at the GJF in 2018), she opened a discussion on ethics and working conditions in architecture in the Czech Republic. In 2019 and 2020 she collaborated with the Brno Faculty of Architecture and the Architecture Gallery on an international lecture series - on education in architecture and on not growing.

From 2021, in cooperation with the FA BUT, it has been preparing an exhibition programme: an exhibition by Hungarian artist and architect Andi Schmied and her project on luxury housing in Manhattan, an exhibition on affordable housing in collaboration with architect and urban planner Gabu Heindl, and an exhibition on post-socialist change and migration along pan-European transport corridors in the triangle formed by Vienna, Tallinn and the Bulgarian-Turkish border with Austrian curators and architects from the Tracing Spaces collective. The exhibition "Stop and Go. Knots of Transformation and Transition" is open at the Dornych shopping centre in Brno until 22 January 2023. This year, Karolína Plášková has prepared the exhibition "Architecture as Work", another in the series "Dear Architects...". The project, on display at the Brno Architecture Gallery from 7 December 2022 to 22 January 2023, deals with the precarious working conditions in the profession and will be exhibited at the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery in spring 2023.

The purchase of the gallery building has unified the premises under the CTU, the main goal being to create a cultural space in the historic centre of Prague. In addition to the architecture gallery, there will be a second CTU information centre (the current one is located at Jugoslávských partyzánů 3, Prague 6) with a café and a catering facility in the historical underground. At the turn of the year, the premises will be handed over from the current tenant, followed by the reconstruction of the premises, which will require a short closure of the gallery to the public.

The gallery was established in its present space in 1954 after the reconstruction (or rather, construction of a replica) of the Bethlehem Chapel designed by architect Jaroslav Fragner; in 1964 the site was declared a national cultural monument. However, the name in honour of the architect has been used only since 1968. From the beginning, the exhibition hall belonged to the Association of Czech Architects, after 1989 it was managed first by the Association of Czech Architects and later by the Czech Architecture Foundation.

Contact person: 
Kateřina Veselá