The Czech Republic is known for its well-preserved monumental architecture and relics from the Middle Ages. In addition to its rich culture and history, the Czech Republic was also the center of glass crafts and manufacturing in Europe. Bohemia, in the western part of today's Czech Republic, held a matchless position in glassmaking and was one of the two pillars in glass art, along with Venice, which led the glass industry of the 18th century. 

Many pieces of Bohemian glasswork art will be unveiled in Seoul beginning February 10, as the "Story of Bohemian Glass" exhibit opens at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan District, Seoul. The National Museum and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Czech Republic, will showcase 340 pieces of glasswork and introduce Czech history and culture in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Korea-Czech Republic diplomatic relationship. Various types of glasswork produced from ancient to modern times across Bohemia will be on display. 

Most of the notable works on display have a Christian theme. As the craftsmanship developed and religion became a central theme for the art, a large number of stained glass windows were produced. Three pieces in particular of the works on display at the National Museum are some of the oldest remaining stained glass windows in the country. 


Fifteenth century stained glass windows portray images of the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist.


Fifteenth century stained glass windows portray images of the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist.

The exhibit is divided into different time periods. In the Origins of Glassmaking and the Middle Ages section, visitors can see 15th century stained glass with a Christian theme. Glass manufacturing skills started developing in the Czech Republic in the Middle Ages. Royals, aristocrats, churches and the bourgeois enjoyed economic and cultural prosperity, and their need for glass products increased. This, again, led the number of glassworks produced to grow rapidly and high-quality glass started being produced. The construction of cathedrals and other buildings also caused the production of stained glass windows to increase. 

In the Renaissance and Mannerisms section, visitors can see glassworks produced in the 16th century when Prague became the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and was Europe's center of culture and the arts. Methods and ancient techniques to work with jewelry to produce cups and plates were developed at that time and had a huge influence on the development of Bohemian glass craftsmanship. Glassworks decorated with colorful enamel paintings were widely used and a large number of humpen, beer mugs, were produced for celebrations. 


A beer mug produced in 1587 contains the image of an eagle and a coat of arms.

In the Baroque and Rococo section, there are crystal works that represent Bohemian glass art. Cups decorated with fine inscriptions of portraits and hunting scenes, which were popular themes at the time, are quite notable. Craftsmen in the Middle Ages inserted red rubies and gold thread into the glass or put gilt drawings into double-walled glass. In the mid-18th century, the Rococo style, influenced by French court art, became very popular. Small, elegant glass items were decorated with paintings and drawings of fables. Enamel-painted white milk glass, designed to look like ceramic, was also widely used. 


Various colors and shapes of cups and bottles produced in Bohemia.


A statue of a crowned baby Jesus is produced somewhere between 1740 and 1750. The statue wears a miniature chasuble decorated with embroidery and it is one of the most notable works in the exhibit.

The Bohemian Glass From the 19th Century section has glassware with geometrical decorations influenced by the imperialistic style of Napoleon I, as well as practical goods that started being produced with a growth in population. Glittering and transparent glass was used to make accessories, as they became widely utilized as alternatives to expensive jewelry. 

In the final section showcasing Czech glass in the first half of the 20th century and Czech glass after 1945, visitors can see vases decorated with flowers, plants and Oriental patterns influenced by the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century, characterized by geometrical patterns. With technological advancements, many factories opened and started manufacturing glassware in large numbers. Late in the 20th century, many artists started seeing glass as a material for fine arts and produced many works of art containing philosophical and formative messages. 


A cup produced in 1836 is dedicated to philosopher Josef Jungmann (1773-1847).

The exhibition will continue in the first floor of the permanent exhibition hall at the National Museum until April 26. For more information, please call 02-2077-9000 or visit the museum homepage( By Limb Jae-un Staff Writer 
Photos: Jeon Han, the National Museum of Korea 


Female hair accessories produced in the 19th and 20th century are designed to clip a cap to the hair.


A cup produced between 1720 and 1730 contains pictures of deer and wild pig hunting.


A vase is made in a Loetz glass factory in 1902.


Figures 'Czechoslovakia Vs. Sweden' by Jaroslav Brychta (1895-1971)


'Object' is made by Vaclav Cigler (b. 1929) sometime between 1968 and 1970.


200 'Wave' is produced by Pavel Hlava (1924-2003) in 2002.