Czech & Slovak Museum holds grand re-opening - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Czech & Slovak Museum holds grand re-opening


The city of Cedar Rapids continues its flood recovery efforts after 2008's historic disaster.

No project may have grabbed more attention than the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library and today when it reopened its doors to the public the Czech and Slovak heritage in Cedar Rapids was as vibrant and lively as ever.


Four years ago after flood waters poured through the heart of Czech village and the museum and library celebrating a day like this seemed far fetched.

"When I saw the buildings in the middle of the river, it was just devastating. Just devastating," said Gail Naughton the CEO of the National Czech and Slovak museum and library.


The challenges museum staff faced were overwhelming, yet they were all conquered along the way.

Most notably the 17,000 square foot building was picked up and moved from the banks of the Cedar River to higher ground as a way to protect from future flooding

"It took a lot of inspiration to relocate and move a museum of this magnitude," said Ron Corbett the mayor of Cedar Rapids.

Now with three words "we are back" the Czech and Slovak community can celebrate the museum's rebirth.

"Not to give up after the floods, but relentless work to rebuild and revive the museum again," said Peter Zelenak from the Embassy of the Slovak Republic.


Fresh with new additions the facility now stands at three times its original size.

The building is now home to three museum galleries, a theater, and a revamped library.

"Now we have a facility in which the entire nation can be proud of," said Lu Barron the Chair of the Board of Directors.


People came in masses to witness the reopening including Kathleen Kozak-Miller. She and her husband are in town from St. Louis, Missouri to be a part of history.

"I'm 100 percent Slovak and I think this really is an awesome experience for Czechs and Slovaks," Kozak-Miller said.

Those who toured the new space left impressed.

"The museum, what I've seen of it so far, is magnificent," Said Ken Perry a Cedar Rapids native. He says the museum reopening is an important step for the neighborhood and surrounding city's recovery.

"This is an excellent example of progress."

The museum's comeback valued by so many is yet another sign of the resiliency of the Czech and Slovak heritage

"It's really gratifying that people care so much, and when they cheer, it makes you feel like you've done something that meaningful to people," Naughton said.


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