The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library will celebrate its grand reopening in Cedar Rapids this weekend. It’s another stepping stone in a long, expensive recovery from the flood of 2008. Museum spokeswoman Leah Wilson says the facility is reopening in what will be its temporary home for the next two years in a newly-renovated 16th Avenue building in the city’s Czech Village.
The Kosek Dime and Dollar Building had a long history on the avenue and was frequented by many people in the neighborhood who would patronize the store as children, buying penny candy, basketballs and toys. Wilson says it was a common “dime store” from the 1940s era and did have a Czech heritage. She says this building was hit by the record flood of 2008, has no external flood protection and is not elevated.
“What we did do in the rebuilding process for this particular building was, we made sure everything that went into the building was modular,” Wilson says. “The exhibition is put together in pieces and can be taken out in pieces at a moment’s notice if there is a threat of flood.”
The original museum and library was evacuated on June 11th of 2008 and sustained heavy damage. That building has remained closed and the facility took up temporary residence at Lindale Mall. The museum and library is touted as the leading U.S. institution for collecting, exhibiting, preserving and interpreting Czech and Slovak history and culture. With the ribbon-cutting on the Kosek Building at 11 A.M. on Saturday, the community’s cultural treasures are back in the neighborhood, but they’ll be moved again.
“This is not the final piece of our recovery plan,” Wilson says. The original building will be moved across the street from its current location, and it’ll be elevated to rest well above the flood plain and above a layer of parking. The opening of the Kosek Building represents about two-million dollars in a 25-million dollar recovery plan.
The new exhibition center and library should open in 2012. Grand reopening ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday are expected to draw Governor Culver and officials from the Czech Embassy. A new multimedia exhibit will also debut called “Rising Above: The Story of a People and the Flood.”
The building will also house administrative offices, an educational classroom and a museum store. For more information, visit: “www.NCSML.org“.