Tapping the Egg: Columbus Then and Now

curator: Vjera Borozan | Space

The story of Christopher Columbus, his epochal voyage, and his “discovery of a new continent” are among the founding myths of modern Western civilization. This story, based (among other things) on the study of historical sources, has found a place in history and geography textbooks. Many historical and adventure novels, paintings, prints, sculptures, films, operas, and plays have been dedicated to Columbus. His popularity grew especially in the 19th century and reached a peak at the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), which celebrated the 400th anniversary of his “discovery”. The public image of Columbus began to change in the 20th century, especially after the Second World War, when anticolonial struggles produced new geopolitical and economic relationships. Gradually, all the things that had long been ignored and suppressed began to bubble to the surface of what had been a grand and triumphant story.

Today, amidst worldwide debate regarding the urgency
of decolonization, is an opportune time to explore the many questions associated with the subject of this exhibition. Its main focus is on Columbus’s representation in the Czech lands and in Czech culture, in particular in works of art created in or accessible to this geographic region from the 19th century until the present. Besides exploring what these works say about Columbus, we are interested in what they say about ourselves and about the ideas that we project onto them. The exhibition has been divided into several mutually interrelated sections.



The exhibition was supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Statutory City of Hradec Králové.