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HISTORICKÁ SOCIOLOGIE, Vol 11 No 2 (2019), 11–33

Tell a Story of the Nation: Image of Religion and Non-religion in the Czech National Museum

Tomáš Bubík

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14712/23363525.2019.14
published online: 02. 12. 2019


The study of religion and non-religion in a museum has become a phenomenon recently gaining attention from scholars, especially those focusing on the study of religiousness in public spaces. This paper examines the topic using the example of the Czech National Museum, particularly of its long-term exhibitions because these have a broader social impact. As a state institution, the National Museum not only collects, exhibits and studies items and artifacts but at the same time creates a story, a narrative contributing to the formation of national identity and to a sense of community. This story tries to represent Czechness in modern times, its national character, its past and present, and how it has been self-defined as well as created in relation to others. The main objective of the paper is to characterize the role of religion and non-religion in the national narrative from a Religious Studies perspective. It aims not at comparing the findings with the real importance of religion in Czech society but at uncovering how the National Museum wants its visitors to perceive the role of religion in the story of Czechness, and which events, people and values have gained a purely non-religious character in it.

keywords: religion; non-religion; secularity; museum; nation; national identity; Czechness; religious studies

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