Shakespeare in Prague: Imagining the Bard in the Heart of Europe

Columbus Museum of Art is proud to present Shakespeare in Prague: Imagining the Bard in the Heart of Europe, on view February 10 – May 21, 2017 in the Margaret M. Walter Wing. The exhibition was organized by the Columbus Museum of Art; The Ohio State University’s College of Arts and Sciences Arts Initiative; the Arts and Theatre Institute, Prague, Czech Republic; and the National Museum, Prague, Czech Republic. Shakespeare in Prague displays the history and depth of Shakespearean productions in central Europe and highlights the work of dozens of central European theater artists and designers. From the Machiavellian rise and fall of Richard III to the fantastical world of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this exhibition explores the myriad ways stage design in central Europe adapted the bard’s plays into their world.

The 2016 celebration of the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare renewed global interest in England’s most legendary wordsmith. For more than four hundred years, the plays and poetry of Shakespeare have inspired artists and audiences in both English and non-English speaking countries. Prague was one of the first cities outside of England to embrace Shakespeare’s plays, which were performed during his lifetime in the Bohemian capital.

In the 20th century, Shakespeare remained a touchstone for central European theater. Under the Nazi and Communist grips on Czechoslovakia, the strengths, weaknesses, yearnings, and foibles expressed in Shakespeare’s work allowed artists to express themselves, even under strict censorship. Shakespeare in Prague highlights the ways in which these plays were used by artists and designers in central Europe throughout the 20th and 21st centuries to explore the universal aspects of our shared humanity.

The works in Shakespeare in Prague illustrate the varied responses of Czech and Slovakian artists and designers. Original and reproduction costumes, set and costume renderings, maquettes and models of sets, photographs, prints, and ephemera are all included in the exhibition. Designs ranging from early 20th century modernism to surrealism to post-modern references to popular culture are represented. Shakespeare in Prague underscores the significant contributions of these Czech and Slovak artists and designers to world culture and to the continued proliferation of the work of William Shakespeare.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue of the same name, which includes essays by Guest Curator Joe Brandesky, Ph.D., as well as Czech theater experts Vlasta Koubska, Barbora Příhodová, and Pavel Drábek. Catalogues are available in the Museum Store.

About Columbus Museum of Art
Columbus Museum of Art creates great experiences with great art for everyone. The Greater Columbus Arts Council, Nationwide Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, and the Henry D. and Carol B. Clark, Hermann Vorys, Fred Sands Family, Sayre Charitable, and James W. Overstreet funds of The Columbus Foundation provide ongoing support. CMA, Schokko Art Café, and the Museum Store are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and until 9:00 pm every Thursday. Museum admission is $14 for adults; $8 for seniors and students 6 and older; and free for members, children 5 and younger. Special exhibition fees may also apply. Admission is free for all on Sundays. PNC Free Sundays presented by PNC Arts Alive is made possible through a grant from the PNC Foundation. For additional information, call 614.221.6801 or visit

About The Ohio State University’s College of Arts and Sciences Arts Initiative
The Arts Initiative at The Ohio State University serves as an umbrella for multiple arts and culture organizations on and off campus, including the Urban Arts Space, Hopkins Hall Gallery, and the Town and Gown Committee for the Arts. The Arts Initiative generates and nurtures partnerships and collaborations that bring local, national, and international exhibitions and performances to Ohio State and the city of Columbus. More information at