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#OurStories: Connected by glass! Connecting the heritage of art glass, the Roma community and Norwegian artists

Department 58 – International Relations
Department 58 – International Relations




Železný Brod is a town with a rich tradition of glassmaking, which is specific in its focus on artistic processing. The Municipal Museum in Železný Brod focuses on the presentation of artistic glassmaking to the public, but in recent years its exhibition has lacked modern appeal and suitable climatic, lighting and safety conditions. Moreover, it neglected the important connection of glassmaking with the local Roma community. All this is now being addressed by the project Connected by Glass!, which is intended to strengthen the renown of the Iron and Brod glassmaking tradition at home and in the world. 

"The project Connected by glass! connects local glassmakers, the museum, the glass school, the Romani community, the public, local institutions, the Norwegian glassmaking community - in short, we are connected by glass," says Lenka Jůnová, the project leader from the Železný Brod City Museum.

Visitors to the museum can look forward to a new interactive exhibition

One of the key parts of the project is the reconstruction of the Municipal Museum in Železný Brod and the creation of a completely new interactive exhibition. The aim is to ensure optimal spatial and technical conditions for the exhibition, storage and conservation of exhibits. Along with the reconstruction, the museum will be completely modernized and adapted to the current standards of museum practice. 

The interiors will be renovated. The upper floor will be completely free of daylight and the exhibits will be illuminated to bring out the beauty and depth of the glass objects. Lighting improvements as well as replacement of air conditioning and security systems are integral to the project.

Expozice muzea

State before reconstruction and visualization of the new glass exhibition in the Železný Brod City Museum 
(photo: Železný Brod City Museum)

"The most visible part of our project Connected by Glass! will be the creation of a new glass exhibition, which will introduce visitors to our heritage of Železný Brod glass in a more attractive form," says Petra Hejralová, director of the Železný Brod City Museum. "The new glass exhibition is in its infancy, but it should be ready by the beginning of 2024, so we hope that it will be successful and we will offer visitors a new attractive exhibition", she looks forward to.


Petra Hejralová, Director of the Železný Brod City Museum

International Symposium Summer Glass Workshop and Cooperation with Norway

The Summer Glass Workshop is held in cooperation with the Museum, the Secondary School of Applied Arts and Glass (SUPŠS), the town of Železný Brod, the Detesk company and the Lhotský studio and is a prestigious event among artistic glassmakers. Thanks to the project, three Norwegian glass artists have repeatedly participated in the event. The symposium thus helped to establish close relations with the Norwegian glass community and to make the phenomenon of artistic glassmaking in Železný Brod visible abroad.

International cooperation enables the exchange of know-how in the field of cultural heritage management and glassmaking and contributes to the enrichment and professional development of the Czech glassmaking community. This year's Summer Worskshop will take place at the beginning of September 2023.

International Symposium Summer Glass Workshop with the participation of Norwegian artist Jeanne-Sophie Ass

Roma People and glass

The project pays special attention to the tradition of Romani glassmaking. The museum curators decided to map the hitherto neglected role of the Roma community in local glass production. The result of the research, entitled Roma and Glass, will be part of the museum's new exhibition and the exhibition will contribute to a better understanding of Roma culture. 

Workshops have also been held three times already, allowing children from the Roma community to learn about glassmaking techniques in a simple way and to create their own glass products. One of the workshops focused on the technique of poured glass, which was also linked to an exhibition of the Romani glass artist Rudolf Dzurek.


Exhibition of the work of Roma artist Rudolf Dzurek organized in cooperation with the Museum of Roma Culture

"The children were at an exhibition of his glass paintings, which are created by pouring glass crumbs, and at the workshop they could then create a small picture of themselves using this technique of pouring glass and sealing. These activities were intended to motivate and support the interest of Romani children in studying at the local glass school," Petra Hejralová said.  

The workshops are organized in cooperation with the local glass art school, which actively cooperates with the museum.  "The enthusiasm that we have seen during several workshops here has been unambiguous. At one point, we couldn't even fit the course participants into our workshops because their parents came too. They created a lot of interesting works, which we had on display, of course," says Jan Hásek, the school's director.

Workshopy pro děti

At the workshops, children prepared glass beads and made Christmas decorations

One of the lecturers was Josef Havrila, who is himself studying glassmaking and helped organize the workshops for Romani children together with the Romani Community Center in Tanvald and the Kotva Low Threshold Center in Železný Brod. "We tried making glass beads with the children. They got at least some idea of what is done here, and several children said that when they are older they would like to try the local glass school." He got into working with glass himself through his family, who live in town and worked in the glassworks: "I got into multiple processes of working with glass at school, whether it was painting or even glass engraving. And I have to say that there is something in everything. But what I like most is the journey and the story behind each finished product," said Josef. 


Josef Havrila, student sklářského řemesla


Czech glassmaking tradition deserves international attention

"Supporting the glassmaking tradition is important not only for the people of Železný Brod, but for the entire Czech Republic. Because Czech glass and Czech tradition is a heritage that we should pass on to our children. The whole world should know how skilled we are in the glass craft. And this is the essence of the project Connected by glass!. To show that our glass is really worth it," concludes Lenka Jůnová. 

Lenka Jůnová

Lenka Jůnová, vedoucí projektu Spojeno sklem!

The project Connected by Glass! is supported by the EEA and Norway Grants through the Culture Programme. The purpose of the project is to strengthen the management of cultural heritage through the revitalisation of the museum building in order to ensure optimal protection of the collection objects and to create an innovative way of their presentation and through other activities that will lead to the strengthening of bilateral cooperation and the development of the region. A partial objective is also to map the role of the Roma community in local glass production. The museum curators have carried out research on the topic "Roma and glass", the result of which will be part of the museum's new exhibition.


Project title: Connected by Glass!
Project promoter The Town of Železný Brod
Project partners

Ida-Christel Siebke (NOR)
Jeanne-Sophie Aas (NOR)
Kari Molstad (NOR)
Kjersti Johannessen (NOR)

Muzeum romské kultury (CZE)

Programme: Culture
Grant: 1 095 991 EUR
Goal of the project: The project Connected by Glass! is focused on access to and protection of cultural heritage - the glass collection of the Municipal Museum in Železný Brod and revitalization of the building in which the collection will be made accessible. The main aim of the project is to support, present and promote the unique phenomenon of glass production in the Železný Brod region in conjunction with the project partners, which are Norwegian glass artists and the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno.