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Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Václav Havel Library

June 20, 2024
A celebration of the 20th birthday of the Václav Havel Library was held on June 13th, 2024, in the Royal Gardens of the Prague Castle. Michaela Bakala, chairwoman of the library's Advisory Board, who, together with her husband Zdenek, has been the library's strategic partner and main financial supporter since its inception, came to wish the organization a happy anniversary.
Friends and supporters of the library, as well as the public, were invited to the celebration at the Royal Gardens. Guests were treated to theater performances, concerts, discussions, readings, exhibitions, and a photo show.
Jáchym Topol, the library’s program director, welcomed guests to the celebrations in the Prague Castle’s Míčovna: "For the last 20 years, there has been a place where dialogue is conducted without censorship and prejudice, where freedom shakes hands with independence, responsibility, and respect for human rights, where learning about modern history is intertwined with an understanding of the principles of democracy and civil society— for 20 years, the Václav Havel Library has been here!"
Michaela Bakala, who served as a member of the library's Board of Trustees for 12 years and has been the chairwoman of the library’s Advisory Board since June 2023, noted: "I am extremely grateful that thanks to my life with my husband, Zdenek, and his friendship with Václav Havel, I been able to help realize the idea of the Presidential Library and be part of this wonderful project.”
Michaela added: “Václav did not want a mausoleum. The library serves not only his personal legacy, but our modern history and the values upon which we built our country in 1993. Václav Havel’s name and ideas continue to resonate around the world. I am very happy about the emergence of new, influential politicians who take inspiration from Václav's legacy and are setting the direction of the Czech Republic. They have a lot to build on and I wish them the best of luck. I also have a wish for the Václav Havel Library, Dagmar, her family, and all of us who have worked with Václav or supported his legacy: may Václav's legacy live on long after we are gone and may the library one day celebrate its centenary."
The Bakalas have been strategic partners and major financial supporters of the library since its inception. Thanks to this long-standing partnership, the library has become a renowned institution and a vibrant place accessible to all generations. It is a place where the historical significance of the struggle for human rights and freedom in the era of totalitarianism, and the creation of civil society in a modern democracy, can be presented to the public.
As part of the celebratory evening, Milan Babík, D.Phil, a university lecturer and an expert in international relations, was introduced as the library’s new director. Milan has spent his professional life in the United States; his home university is Colby College in Maine. In addition to educating younger generations, in his new position he would like to work with like-minded partners to use Havel's legacy to identify threats to freedom, democracy, and human rights.
The evening program also included the Tom Stoppard Award ceremony. The 2024 winner is Vladimír Merta, a musician, publicist, essayist, and writer. Vladimír is a graduate of the Film and Television Screenwriting and Directing program at FAMU. He won the award with his essay entitled “The Chilling Mystique of War.”
The celebration, organized by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with the Prague Castle Administration, culminated in a theater performance of Václav Havel's play “Tomorrow” and a concert by Ondřej Havelka and his Melody Makers.


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