Josef Lada


Josef Lada, a painter and writer, is especially known for his illustrations, which accompany Czechs from their cradle, through their holidays and later age. Czech children grow up with his illustrations of fairy tales and children’s readers, such as ‘Kocour Mikeš’ or ‘Mikeš the tomcat’. His landscapes adorn thousands of Czech Christmas cards and calendars. Thereby, his satiric illustrations of the World War One novel “The Good Soldier Švejk” by Jaroslav Hašek’s, give the character a face, that amuses the adult readers.

Who was ‘Kocour Mikeš’ or ‘Mikeš the tomcat’?

Mikeš, is a black cat, that lives with the shoemaker Pepik, grandmother and his friends in the village Hrusice. The intrepid tomcat, Mikeš, decides to explore the world and the readers get to follow him on his journeys. Eventually, he returns to his safe hometown and enjoys his time with his family and friends again.

Josef Lada himself was born in a cobbler’s family in Hrusice and left his village to start a training as a bookbinder and worked later as editor-in-chief for the Sunday issue of České slovo – Kvítko z čertovy zahrádky in Prag. After 1924, he started returning to his native village with his family where they spent their summer holidays. There, he decided to buy a piece of land and built a house in 1930. Four years later, he started to write the adventures of the talking cat, Mikeš, and completed his story in 1936. It has been translated into 30 languages and published around the world.

Lada has a very characteristic style, but the artist shouldn’t be confused with his simple visual style. His work concentrates on the simple things in life, gatherings, landscapes, very romantic, quiet and poetic scenes. But this doesn’t mean that he was simplistic or unsophisticated.

Josef Lada, Landscape with family, 1954

According to art historian, Dr. Pavla Pečínková:

“Josef Lada does paint a world of his own…. All sorts of artists were doing this in the 1930s, and throughout both of the World Wars. The artist had the choice of using his art to engage with his surroundings, or to escape them. Lada was one of these introverts and sought inspiration from within.”

He was very productive through his lifetime and created hundreds of landscapes and quaint scenes. Nonetheless, Lada also took on a serious topics, by creating illustrations for the satirical novel ‘The Good Soldier Švejk’ in 1923. He confronts the viewer with the events of World War I. However, his images allow readers to face the topic from a critical, satirical point of view, without being confronted with the cruelty of war. The storyline is set during World War I in Austria-Hungary, a multi-ethnic empire full of longstanding ethnic tensions. This war caused the deaths of about fifteen million people; one million of them were Austro-Hungarian soldiers, which included around 140,000 Czechs.

In 1925, the satirical war novel was banned from Czechoslovak army libraries and was suppressed in Bulgaria. The Polish version was confiscated in 1928 and the German translation was burned on Nazi bonfires in 1933.

What made ‘The Good Soldier Švejk’ so unacceptable?

It explores in a hilariously subversive depiction, the pointlessness and futility of conflicts and military discipline, Austrian military discipline in particular. Many of its characters, especially the Czechs, are participating in a conflict they do not understand on behalf of an empire to which they have no loyalty.

The main character, soldier Josef Švejk, is a symbolic representation of this theme, undergoing many amusing and surprising adventures. Through idiocy or incompetence, which is possibly feigned, he repeatedly manages to frustrate military authority and exposes its stupidity in the form of passive resistance. The reader is left unclear whether Švejk is genuinely incompetent or acting deliberately with dumb insolence. Nonetheless, these absurd events reach a climax when Švejk, wearing a Russian uniform, is mistakenly taken prisoner by his own troops.

Josef Lada, Soldier Svejk (left side)

Due to the contentious political situation in Europe after WWI, the controversial character of soldier Švejk became inadmissible for nations that were opposed to minorities (e.g. Czechs) or supported the military or monarchy. Although all the given disapproval against soldier Švejk, Josef Lada continued to develop his soldier character and edited his illustrations until 1954.

This novel is the most often translated Czech book worldwide and one of the most popular anti-war novels. Art historians assume that Josef Lada’s style was influenced due to his work as an illustrator for newspapers, conditioned by the black and white printing techniques, and permitting simple, clear lines.

However, he kept this narrative, picturesque style with an idyllic accent also in his oil paintings. Lada’s work is clear and understandable for all age groups, therefore, put in context, it receives an absolute different resonance, what makes his images so popular.

Josef Lada, Fox and Stork (Aesop)








Thursday: The History of the United Nations

Time: 6:00-8:00PM
Date: January 21,2016
Location: Czech Center Museum Houston
Attendance is free, but RSVP by email or phone (713) 528-2060.

The United Nations celebrated its 70th anniversary on October 24, 2015. Since then, scholars and diplomats have been writing about its successes, failures, and the gamut of issues it has had to deal with over the years, within its nearly 200 member states. Dr. Slavomir Michalek is one such scholar, who will be presenting a lecture at the Czech Center Museum Houston this Thursday, January 21, 2016.

He will discuss Czechoslovakia’s involvement with the founding of the United Nations in 1945, which marks an important milestone in the history of the world’s struggle for democracy, freedom, security and human rights. Today, the international organization of peace continues to play a crucial role in international relations. He will discuss his recently published research on the participation of Czechoslovakia in the process of founding the United Nations, and the approach of the Security Council of the UN to the Czechoslovak questions in 1948 and again in 1968 under the title “San Francisco 1945.” The compilation is a unique historical record based on study and comparison of the documents of the League of Nations and the United Nations.

michalekThe exhibition Dr. Michalek has organized was inaugurated in October 2015 in Bratislava, Slovakia by the Secretary General of UN, Ban Ki-Moon, and attended by over 150 governmental officials and diplomats. The Secretary General proudly declared this exhibition to be “the only exhibition of its kind in the world, an excellent historical record and a great contribution to the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.” The exhibition will officially open at the United Nations in New York City in the early part of 2016.

Dr. Michalek is a renowned historian, expert on Czechoslovak-American relations from World War II to the 1980s, and author and co-author of more than 20 monographs. His broad scholarly range focuses on American foreign policy towards Czechoslovakia or Czechoslovak-American economic and political relationships, as well as on personalities of the Czechoslovak foreign policy from the ranks of Slovaks.

Distinguished Lecturer: Bill Boyce

This weekend, join Czech Center Museum Houston for our Second Distinguished Lecture Series, featuring Bill Boyce. The evening will include a review of his book for sale and signing of Miss Fortune’s Last Mission.

Date: Saturday, January 8, 2015
Time: 4:00 PM
Tickets: Admission is free; please RSVP.
Contact: or (713) 528-2060

About Miss Fortune’s Last Mission: Uncovering a Story of Sacrifice and Survival (Bright Sky Press):

Bill Boyce always wanted to know why his father, William D. Boyce, refused to discuss his tour of duty on a B-24 Liberator bomber during WWII. The experience had affected every aspect of his father’s life, but an unspoken agreement kept the topic classified. Bill failed to ask, and his father failed to tell.

Twenty-five years after his father’s death, Bill found Ray Noury, the one man who might tell him what his father would not. Noury had flown with Boyce during the fall and winter of 1943 and saved his life.

Their conversation led Bill to John Torrison, who had spent a decade tracking down facts about the crew and his uncle’s role as the tail gunner. Together, they searched stacks of old photographs, military records and family letters across America and in the Czech Republic, where the B-24 nicknamed Miss Fortune crashed on February 22, 1944.

Both intimate and historical, Miss Fortune’s Last Mission shows the impact the brave men who fought and died still have in the lives of the survivors who honor their sacrifices.

Details of the air war over Europe and the lives of the crew provide an important window on the human side of war. The authors’ search to understand the reverberations of the crash reveals the lasting effect of loss and healing power of sharing our stories.

Bill Boyce lives in Houston, Texas, where he practiced law for 18 years before becoming a justice on the state court of appeals. He graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and from Northwestern University School of Law. Before attending law school, he worked for newspapers in Illinois and Oregon.

He is married to Maria Wyckoff Boyce and is the proud father of daughters Emily and Julia.boycebook

Czech Baking Class at CCMH!

Just in time for summer, the Czech Center Museum Houston is hosting its first-ever Czech Baking Class on Saturday, May 30th, 10am – 12noon! We’re excited to learn from CCMH member Eva Maria how to make Czech bublanina, a cake-like dessert with fruit inside.

Entry is $10 each, and participants will get to taste a version of the finished product, experience the baking demonstration, and take home the recipe! While many Czech recipes are complicated and time consuming, this dish is relatively easy to make – so whether you’ve been baking for years or are still a beginner, don’t be afraid! There will also be a special surprise treat for a lucky attendee😀 We appreciate your RSVP by May 28th, as space is limited.

Here’s a raspberry bublanina to drool over until May 30th gets here:


If you can’t attend on May 30th, watch our website and Facebook page for upcoming Czech Baking Class dates! We also continue with Free Movie Nights every second Friday and Happy Hours on one Thursday every month. Here are a few dates to mark:

Free Movie NightFriday, June 12, 2015, Doors at 7:30pm, Movie at 8pm

Happy HourThursday, June 18, 2015, 4-8pm

Polka Dancing! with Bob and Mike from Texas Legacy Czech Band: June 27 Saturday, 4-7pm

Free Movie NightFriday, July 10, 2015, Doors at 7:30pm, Movie at 8pm

Happy HourThursday, July 16, 2015, 4-8pm

Book Review and Signing with Dr. Jim Fuxa, author of Žižka the One-Eyed:
Talk and book signing with author of the “Historical Novel of Revolution in Medieval Bohemia.” Books will be available for purchase at the CCMH Gift Shop. July 25 Saturday, 4pm

See you soon!

Museum Experience next Saturday

The Zone 2 Museum Experience is one week away on Saturday, April 25! It’s a great chance to visit all the museums of Zone 2 in Houston’s Museum District: DiverseWorks, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Lawndale Art Center, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Asia Society Texas Center, Holocaust Museum Houston, and of course, the Czech Center Museum Houston! Each museum will have special programming and since they’re so close together, you can walk from place to place. Food trucks will be parked at different spots around the zone for lunch, with Melange Creperie in front of the Czech Center Museum selling sweet and savory crepes from 10am – 2pm.

crepe crepe1

Inside CCMH, we’ll have activities going on on all three floors. On the first floor, it’s the last day to experience Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition. The second floor ballroom will be filled with live polka music from Bob and Mike of the Texas Legacy Czech Band, along with polka dancing lessons. On the third floor, we’ll have children’s activities including Czech cartoons, coloring, the game Pexeso and more. Admission for the day is $5 for adults, $3 for children 10 and under and free for Czech Center Museum members.

Museum Experience Zone 2 CCMH Schedule

Check out the event on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates. Be sure to tag photos from the day with #HouMuse. Have a super week and see you soon on the 25th!

2015 Events at CCMH

2015 is off to a great start! Here at the Czech Center Museum we introduced our newest exhibit, Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition and had a great turnout for the opening reception in January. Then we had a talk in February by author Theresa Parker, followed by a performance by the Lanier Middle School Polka Band, all in conjunction with the exhibit. We’ll have more events to highlight this exhibit before its last day on April 25 (which happens to be Zone 2 Museum Day!) so read on and make plans to join in the fun! We have big plans for March, starting with Free Movie Night in its new spot at 7:30pm every second Friday of the month: Television Friday, March 13: Free Movie Night Part III Doors open at 7:30pm, Movie at 8pm Movie Night at CCMH is a great place to socialize, relax, enjoy the cash bar and meet people from the community! Free popcorn makes our cozy third floor theater feel even more authentic. And quickly continuing with even more culture-packed events: Czech SweetsSaturday, March 14: Czech Food Panel Time to be announced soon – Watch our website and Facebook for updates. Hear from Czech expats and Texas Czechs about the foods they grew up with and how these traditional dishes have played a part in their lives. Enjoy complimentary Czech sweets provided by CCMH Members and learn about a vibrant and important part of Texas culture. Free and open to the public as part of our exhibit Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition. Yale Slavic Chorus Thursday, March 19: Yale Slavic Chorus 7:00 – 9:00pm Performance by Yale’s oldest all-women’s vocal ensemble. Celebrate Slavic music and traditional costumes! Get your tickets now ($10 each) here. Skampa_Quartet_6 Saturday, March 28, 2015:19th Annual Members and Friends Dinner with the Škampa Quartet Doors open at 5:30pm for drinks, socializing and a preview by the Škampa Quartet 6:30pm: Full concert performed by the Škampa Quartet 7:30pm: Dinner and time to meet the musicians Our annual social and fundraiser of beautiful music, drinks, dinner and good company! This year, the renowned Škampa Quartet is coming all the way from the Czech Republic to perform a program of Czech classical music. The Škampa Quartet has been described as “the very finest of an outstanding group of current Czech string quartets that has represented their country in major Concert Halls around the world for twenty five years.” We are thrilled to be their host in Houston! Many thanks to Dr. Thomas Sovik and Czech Educational Foundation of Texas, CEFT, for their support in bringing the Quartet to Texas. Please RSVP by March 21st, 2015. Join us for an unforgettable evening! Tickets (please call 713-528-2060 or email Individual Ticket: $75 Children 10 and under: $25 Underwriter Tables of 10: -Silver: $5,000 -Sponsor: $2,500 -Patron: $1,500 -Prestige: $1,000 Individual Underwriter: $600 MuseumExperienceSaturday, April 25: Zone 2 Museum Experience All Day at the Zone 2 Museums: Asia Society Texas Center, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Czech Center Museum Houston, DiverseWorks, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston Museum of African American Culture, and Lawndale Art Center. Check the Museum District site for a full schedule of events! (One of our activities is a live polka band and polka dancing lessons!) As always, check our Facebook page and website for frequent updates! And don’t forget, the Czech Center Museum Houston is available for venue rental for your special events – just call 713-528-2060 or email for more details. See you soon!

February is here!

It is going to be a lovely month! We have a couple of sweet events coming up that will make you fall in love all over again with the Czech Center Museum Houston:


February 12, 5-7pm, Free Entry: Valentine’s Happy Hour. Mix and mingle in our pop-up Valentine’s Cafe on the first floor with sweets and a cash bar!

Conversation Event Illo

February 21, 4-7pm, Free Entry: Conversation with author Theresa Parker and photographer Mark Hiebert, creators of Jimmy Brosch Remembers Twenty Legendary Texas Czech Polka Bands, followed by a performance by the Lanier Middle School Polka Band. This is the first in a series of free events held in conjunction with the exhibit Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition.

Check our website and Facebook page for updates and other upcoming events! We’d love to see your beautiful face at the Czech Center Museum Houston soon!

Preserving and celebrating Czech and Slovak heritage with the goal of promoting a global community