Life in Brno
Known as the 'second city' of the Czech Republic Brno’s busy artistic life and rich artistic and architectural heritage make it an ideal place to study art history, with much to offer to the culturally curious. The official Go To Brno website is a good place to start to see what’s on.
Art and Architecture
Walking around central Brno it quickly becomes evident that this is a historic city dotted with notable monuments, from the Parnassus Fountain (1690 – 1695) by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach to the 14th-century Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul. As the birthplace of the architect Adolf Loos and novelists such as Milan Kundera and Bohumil Hrabal, Brno has always embraced the new and the modern. One of its best-known landmarks is the Villa Tugendhat, built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929. This UNESCO world-heritage site hosts a range of concerts, film screenings and lectures each year. Recently, its story has also been the focus of a popular novel, Simon Mawer's The Glass Room (2009). As a milestone of modernism, the villa has made Brno's name as a city of functionalist architecture – but it is far from its only example. Guided by the Brno Architectural Manual, you can discover all kinds of architectural gems, such as the Jurkovič House, the Villa Stiassni, or the Café Zeman, built by Brno’s own star architect Bohuslav Fuchs. Finally, there is Špilberk Castle, of course, which has towered over the city since the 13th century and not only offers great views across Brno but also hosts exhibitions, as well as a range of other cultural events like musicals, film screenings, operas and plays.
Galleries and Museums
Brno is also home to museums that host great collections for art historians of all interests. The most important institution is the Moravian Gallery, one of the major museums of art and design in central Europe, with important permanent collections (accessible online too). For art history students especially, the gallery and all its connected activities offer a chance to learn with real art objects at one of the most important art institutions in the Czech Republic. Other galleries and museums in the city include the House of Arts and the Fait Gallery, both of which have a programme of contemporary art exhibitions, and Brno City Museum with regular exhibitions on the art, culture and history of the city, and a permanent display, in the Špilberk. Perhaps the most extraordinary museum in Brno is the Museum for Romani Culture. Dedicated to the history and culture of Romani people, and the only institution of its kind worldwide, it not only hosts a diverse range of exhibitions on Romani communities, but also holds discussion evenings, concerts and lectures. The museum also plays an important role in the annual Ghettofest street festival.
Festivals of all kind are a big part of Brno life. Brno hosts a range of festivals for film fans, including the International Festival of TV and Web Series – Serial Killer or the festival for comic art, KOMA – and of course, all kinds of music festivals. You can find here Art Cinema and Kino Scala, Brno’s best independent cinemas. Brno is also part of the UNESCO Creative Cities network as a city of music.
In the Heart of Central Europe
Aside from being a vibrant city itself, Brno has another major advantage: its ideal location in the heart of central Europe. Within easy reach, there is whole list of UNESCO world heritage sites, such as the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, the beautiful gardens and castle at Kroměříž, or the historic centre of Olomouc. Prague, Bratislava and Vienna are only short train rides away. There are also excellent rail connections to Budapest, Zagreb and Berlin, too. Hence, our students can access not only extensive art collections in Brno itself, but also a host of world institutions, libraries and archives on their doorstep, from the National Gallery in Prague to Vienna's Albertina, Belvedere or Kunsthistorisches Museum. When it comes to art and architecture, Brno is an idea place to study art history.