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Subject: Flood damage in the Czech Republic

Flood damage in the Czech Republic

From: Barbara N. Brown <bnbrown>
Date: Tuesday, September 3, 2002
The following was forwarded to me, and I am sending it to the Cons.
DistList without the knowledge or consent of the original author.
They can be contacted at the email address given in the message.

    We are turning to you with the following information about the
    present state of the Prague House of photography
    <URL:> damaged by flood waters.

    In regard to the fact that the Prague House of Photography is
    situated in close proximity of the river Vltava, in Hastalska
    Street in Prague 1, our building was also afflicted by the
    devastating floods.

    For this reason, we were forced to leave/abandon the space of
    the Prague House of Photography in the center of the Old Town
    against our will. The current exhibition of Milon
    Novotny--entitled "London" was terminated early and office
    operations were interrupted for several days. We apologize for
    this to all those who unsuccessfully tried to contact us during
    those days.

    I. Evacuation

    On Monday, 12 August 2002, we began the evacuation of our
    photographic collection (including photographs for sale) and
    archive, computer and electronic equipment, documentation,
    library and bookstore, the equipment of the Photographic school
    and offices, depository equipment (frames, framing materials,
    matboards, portfolio--cassettes, etc), photographic materials
    (negatives, slides, films), etc.  We continued with the
    evacuation on Tuesday, 13 Aug--among others--by moving the
    current exhibition "London" by Milon Novotny to a safe place.

    Within the short period of time (from 12-13 Aug), a large moving
    vehicle and alternative storage space with sufficient capacity
    could not be found, we unfortunately could not evacuate the
    entire equipment, facility, materials and property of the PHP.
    Nonetheless, we were able to save our whole photographic
    collection, almost all of the photographs in commission sales,
    the major part of our presentational library and archive,
    computer and electronic equipment, documentation, depository
    equipment and the most of the publications in commission sales.
    The official evacuation of the Old Town and Josefov where the
    Prague House of Photography is located was announced only in the
    early morning hours on the August 14th. From the time the
    evacuation was declared until being rescinded, this area of the
    Old Town was completely closed off (August 14-17). During this
    time, we did not have any concrete information of the course or
    extent of the flood in our area. The information services only
    gave superficial news about this area. Information was received
    only by word of mouth--from firemen, emergency workers and
    police operating in this area.

    II. Course of the flood in our locality (Old Town--Josefov)

    According to officially published information, the large
    majority of objects in this locality were flooded by ground
    water (coming from the sewer and drainage system) during the
    mid-morning of the 14th of August. During Wednesday and Thursday
    (14-15th August), it was not possible to stop the overflow of
    water from the sewer system and thus the water level in several
    of the lowest lying building continued to rise (e.g. Hospital na
    Franitisku, St. Agnes Monastery, the Jewish Museum, Prague House
    of Photography, etc.). The worst affected part of this area was
    none other than Hastalska Street, where the House of Photography
    is located. In Hastalska Street, the overflowing ground water
    lead to the movement and collapse of cobblestones and sidewalks,
    to damage of the street base, damage to electrical
    installations, telephone lines and of course the sewage system.
    The Prague House of Photography at 1 Hastalska Street was
    flooded by ground water reached a height of 1.5 to 1.7 meters.
    All of the current rooms of the PHP: the exhibition hall, the
    sales gallery, archive, depository, offices and Photographic
    school remained under water for three days. As our building is
    situated in a small dip in the landscape of the area, where
    there is not a naturally tendency for water to drain off on its
    own, it was necessary to pump it out. The water was finally
    pumped from the building during Friday, 16th August,--the third
    day after the flooding of the PHP.

    III. Outcome of the flood for the PHP

    The exhibition space, archive, depository, offices and the
    Photographic school of the Prague House of Photography were
    flooded by ground water (attaining a height of 1.5 to 1.7 m) The
    resulting removal of damages and sanitation of mud, garbage and
    destroyed material, facility and equipment of the PHP took five
    days. The water destroyed all the furniture, part of the office
    and computer equipment, archive equipment of the depository, the
    electrical system and computer network, part of the
    presentational library and professional publications store
    (catalogs, monographs, encyclopedias, etc) frames, matboards and
    photographic materials. The ground water ruined all of the
    equipment, facility and materials that the PHP could not move
    out in time.

    In the courtyard of the building and in the exhibition hall,
    cobblestones fell in at several places. Apparently, there was a
    shifting or damage to the foundation of the building. We are
    currently waiting for the results of a static test.

    The greatest blow for the Prague House of Photography, however,
    is the loss of the spaces themselves (the exhibition space,
    archive, depository, offices and the Photographic school). In
    the flooded building of the Prague House of Photography, the
    humidity level has risen highly.  It will take many months for
    the building to dry out (mainly the masonry below flood level)
    and the complete drying of the building to serve as a
    photographic gallery could last several years. A further result
    of the flood is the fact that reconstruction will require
    extensive wet work, which in turn will raise the humidity level
    of the building. For this reason, any future storage (archiving)
    and exhibition of photographic material in the flooded spaces of
    the Prague House of Photography in Hastalska Street is
    completely impossible. (Photographic material is extremely
    sensitive to humidity).

    IV. Present situation of the Prague House of Photography

    At the present time, the Prague House of Photography does not
    have exhibition space, space for archive and depository, office
    spaces and room for the Photographic school. At this moment the
    PHP does not have a space for the storage of its protected and
    very valuable photographic collection, library of professional
    publications and photographs for commission sale (the
    aforementioned photographic collection, publications, frames,
    mountings, electronic equipment, etc., are being kept in spaces
    lent temporarily for a period of two months.)

    With the halt in exhibition activities, sales of publications
    and photographic works and the interruption of photographic
    courses, the Prague House of Photography faces the loss of the
    financial returns from these activities which in the long term,
    could lead to the bankruptcy of the PHP. The Prague House of
    Photography was awarded a grant by the Ministry of Culture of
    the Czech Republic and the Main City of Prague for the
    exhibition program for the entire year of 2002/3. If the planned
    exhibition projects do not come to fruition, it will probably be
    necessary to return the unused funds to the grant providers. Not
    to mention that among the planned exhibition projects are
    quality presentations by world renowned authors such as Keith
    Carter, Arthur Tress, Michael Keena and Marcelo Brodsky, who
    without a doubt would have attracted the interest of a wide lay
    and professional public plus the increased media attention. The
    current exhibition of Milon Novotny "London" was cancelled due
    to the reigning situation. In closing we wanted to emphasize
    that as a result of the flooding, the Prague House of
    Photography has found itself in a very serious existential
    situation. The only way out of the situation is the immediate
    discovery of a new or substitute space for the Prague House of
    Photography. The director of the PHP, Ms. Eva M. Hodek, is
    having negotiations / talks on the possibility of providing
    alternative spaces with representatives of the local authorities
    such as Municipal Corporation  of Prague 1,  the Main City of
    Prague and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.

    V. Aid to the Prague House of Photography

    Aid can be provided in the following ways:

        a.  purchase of photographs and art portfolios (limited
            editions) of classical and contemporary authors. The
            photographs on offer and the art portfolios can be found
            on our internet page at: <URL:>

        b.  organization of beneficial auctions (photography,
            artistic works, etc), whose gains will be sent to the
            bank account of the Prague House of Photography
            mentioned bellow (see 5f)

        c.  sale of copyrights for the reproduction of the work by
            classical and contemporary authors (e.g. the preparation
            of a company calendar for the year 2003, etc)

        d.  material sponsorship gifts (e.g. the provision of office
            equipment: copier, printer, CD burner, light table,
            projectors, furniture: desks, shelves, archival
            cabinets, office chairs, etc.)

        e.  media support--publicizing information on television
            and radio and in the press about the state of the Prague
            House of Photography afflicted by the floods

        f.  financial gifts can be sent to our bank account at

            KB, Staromestsk  nam. 24
            Prague 1
            Account no.: 19-58-29 83-02-87/ 0100.

    Bank  account details for payments from abroad:

        Account owner:
        PHP--Prazsky dum fotografie--Prague House of Photography

        Address of the account owner:

            Hastalska 1
            Prague 1, 110 00
            Czech Republic

        Address of the bank:

            KB, Staromestske nam. 24
            Prague 1, 110 00
            Czech Republic
            Account number: 195829830287/0100
            SWIFT: KOMBCZPP

    Any kind of support and help to the Prague House of Photography
    is very welcome!

    To contact the PHP:

        +42-2-24 91-56-44 (l.18)
        php [at] ecn__cz

    The Prague House of Photography has temporarily established a
    provisional office at

        Myslokova 28
        120 00 Prague 2

    Prazsky dum fotografie  /  Prague House of Photography
    Hastalska 1, CZ
    110 00 Praha 1

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:17
                Distributed: Tuesday, September 3, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-16-17-003
Received on Tuesday, 3 September, 2002

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