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6. National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

MEDIA CONTACT: Kristin Drouin
(202) 414-0781;


National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Left to right: Bob Schaffer, Gail Naughton, and Mrs. Obama. Click image for a larger view.

In June 2008, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library was poised to unveil the plans for an expanded facility, but Mother Nature had different plans. The worst disaster in state history – 10 square miles of Cedar Rapids was severely flooded. Thousands of homes, city buildings, and cultural institutions were damaged or destroyed, including the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. All exhibits were destroyed, library collections soaked, 15 years of records lost, and all earned revenue erased. The institution recorded $11 million in damages. A long-time source of cultural and historical education, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library led its devastated ethnic neighborhood in recovery, rebuilding, and ultimately, revitalization.

"To be honored by the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the nation's signature award program that supports museums, is remarkable," said Gail Naughton, President/CEO of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. "We are immensely proud of being recognized for helping our city recover from its major disaster not only by rebuilding and expanding our museum and library, but also for inspiring local citizens and businesses to have faith in the future of the city. Now the NCSML is set to move forward with a bold vision of a national program that will contribute to the dialogue around topics of critical concern to our nation's future through the lessons of the history of the Czech and Slovak people."

Community Member: For local business owner Bob Schaffer, the Cedar Rapids flood of 2008 was devastation. Czech Cottage, a gift and jewelry store Bob opened with his parents in 1975, was destroyed. Precious imported goods simply ruined. Once the water receded, Bob began to truly assess the damage, and day after day, he filled FEMA provided dumpsters with his family’s pride and joy. He credits the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library’s commitment to rebuilding in the original Czech Village as a driving force in his family’s decision to rebuild and reopen, too. "If the Museum had chosen an alternate location, I knew the Czech Village would at best only recover as a ghost of its former self, the museum would lose its context from the Czech neighborhood, and the future of our Czech import shop would be in question. The day NCSML announced plans to rebuild in our neighborhood, it was a tremendous relief."

Praise for National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library:

The significant contributions made by the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Marshalltown Public Library to empower their communities are truly remarkable. My own family, who originally immigrated here from Slovenia, has its history preserved and shared at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. I congratulate these libraries for receiving this prestigious award and for their extraordinary commitment to public service.
U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa)

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is a treasure and this award is well deserved. The museum and library make a wonderful contribution to the study of history and culture, and the museum and library’s presence in the Cedar Rapids community is elevated, both literally and figuratively, after overcoming the 2008 flood in Iowa. I join in expressing appreciation for the commitment of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library to scholarship and preservation of America’s rich heritage.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa)

Museums and libraries are not only community resources for knowledge and learning, but they inspire us to explore our world and its rich history. The Marshalltown Public Library and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library have excelled in this capacity, and I join my fellow Iowans in congratulating both institutions for their outstanding service and this deserved award.
U.S. Representative Tom Latham (Iowa)

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