The collection at the Popmuseum includes both written and audiovisual archive materials and other tangible artefacts that relate to Czech and Slovak pop music. The institution, besides running the museum and holding popular activities, also manages a large archive. The collection is the biggest of its kind in the Czech Republic. Pop music, not only rock, is seen by the museum in a complex context but the collection and the exposition describe opposition activities connected with the phenomenon of “West” and “undesirable” music genres from 1950s until 1980s in Czechoslovakia as well.
Bělohorská 201/150, 169 00 Praha 6 - Břevnov, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
- Popmuseum Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The 42 episode series “Bigbít” (Czech Television, 1998) from the second half of the 1990s maps a history of Czechoslovak rock and pop music in its complexity. The base of the latter large collection were the archive materials and items that were collected while filming the TV series. The founders of the collection are music historians and journalists Aleš Opekar, Petr Hrabalik, Radek Diestler and Josef Kytnar from Brno; they all contributed to the development of the TV series and later to the birth of the archive and the Popmuseum. Their aim was to save, often unique, materials collected originally for needs of the TV series. They took over archiving the materials and items when the original owners agreed. That is how the base of the collection, which they later complemented with their own items, came into existence.
The collection contains archive documents, pictures, posters, audio and audio-visual recordings, music instruments and equipment, related to an evolution of pop music, memorabilia and whole estates, related to important figures of Czech and Slovak pop music. The time frame of the collection is, with some differences, from 1918 until today, based on the estate of Dr. Josef Kotek, author of the only synthesis of Czech pop music to date (“Dějiny české populární hudby a zpěvu 1918–1968”, Prague 1998), and his collector’s activities related to the interwar period. The Popmuseum presents parts of the collection in thematic exhibitions. These are also often related to the conflict of rock music with the state establishment before 1989. In 2008, for example, the exhibition “New wave with old content”, about the massive repressive regime campaign against amateur music bands in 1983, was organised. An exhibition with a similar topic, “Rock fests 1986–89. ‘Máničky’ and mohawks in the Palace of Culture”, about the regime’s aim to get rock music and fans under supervision and control mostly using the official patronage of Socialist Union of Youth, was organised in 2016. The Popmuseum also regularly deals with the phenomenon of underground culture.
The Popumuseum understands pop music in all its entirety regardless of style, genre or time. In relation to the cultural opposition, however, the collection concretizes the Czechoslovakian cultural phenomenon between the 1950s and 1980s, which was regularly in conflict with the state power, in a complex way; during particular decades it was a case of interpreters and fans of jazz and rock’n’roll (1950s), beat music, long-haired and bearded youngsters and hippies (1960s), alternative music and underground (1970s) and punk, new wave and metal (1980s). The originally Anglo-American rock music was, essentially, throughout the socialism period, interpreted by the regime as a certain form of so-called “ideological diversion.” Western cultural models, lifestyle and specific leisure activities of both musicians and fans were officially seen as undesirable and, as such, often restricted or repressed. The actions of authorities caused appropriate counter-reactions by musicians and fans, strengthening their anti-regime stands. The collection is a unique source of information relating to this phenomenon. Activities of the museum are based on the potential of the collection and which is used for popularizing these topics, mostly by already mentioned exhibitions.
Description of content
The Popmuseum and its collection are unique not only in the Czech Republic but also in the whole Central European region. Archive documents, pictures, posters, audio and audio-visual recordings, music instruments and equipment, related to an evolution of pop music, and memorabilia and whole estates, related to important figures of Czech and Slovak pop music are included in the collection.
The most extensive part of the collection is a photo archive that is partly based on a former archive of a “Melodie” magazine (a specialized periodical published between 1963 and 2000); the oldest pictures are from the 1960s. A magazine archive is also broad; it consists mostly of Czech and Slovak music periodicals but also of magazines from Poland, the USA or the GDR. The magazines are mostly of official nature, just a smaller part of the collection consists of fanzines. The future goal is to digitalize the magazines and their indexes. A poster collection is the third largest archive. The deposit in Brno has a complete collection of Czechoslovak rock music on LPs and foreign LPs that were released in Czechoslovakia under a licence. All the audio-visual recordings are digitalized, the access is, however, limited only to use by the archive and the museum, due to the copyright.
In the Popmuseum, costumes, music instruments and equipment are on display and there are also temporary exhibitions.
The collection is definitely the largest and unique Czech collection of archive materials related to the history of music, pop music, underground, rock and rock’n’roll scene and other related genres. The history of the mentioned “undesirable” music is connected with a varying degree of conflicts between musicians and fans on one side and the state and establishment on the other during the whole period of state socialism in Czechoslovakia. The objects, recordings and other material in the collection are a large source of information about this conflict between a particular cultural and social phenomenon; they show the social impact of the phenomenon on the generations of (mostly) young people and the subversive potential of a specific culture in relation to state system before 1989.
- artifacts: unknown quantity
- clothing: unknown quantity
- film: unknown quantity
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): unknown quantity
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): 1000-
- music recordings: 1000-
- photos: 1000-
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): unknown quantity
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
- Balák Miroslav, and Josef Kytnar. 1998. Československý rock na gramofonových deskách: Rocková diskografie 1960–1997. Praha: Indies Records.
Author(s) of this page
- Bárta, Jan
Diesler, Radek. 2016. "Příběh pražského Popmusea 1998-2015." Nový Populár, No. 1. Accessible at https://www.popular.sk/pribeh-prazskeho-popmusea-1998-2015-i-s-malym-hercem-se-da-hrat-velke-divadlo.
Česká televize. 2019. "Bigbít." Accessed January 21. http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/specialy/bigbit/.
Vaněk, Miroslav. 2010. Byl to jenom Rock'n'roll? Hudební alternativa v komunistickém Československu 1956 – 1989. Praha: Academia.
Popmuseum. 2018. "Výroční zpráva." Accessed June 20. http://www.popmuseum.cz/about/data/maph_vz_2017.pdf.
Popmuseum. 2018. "O nás." Accessed June 12. http://www.popmuseum.cz/about/about.php?l=cz.
Opekar, Aleš , Diestler, Radek, interview by Chmátal, Jonáš , April 07, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection