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National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

1400 Inspiration Place SW
Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa, 52404

photo of museum and clocktower
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The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is a museum and library of Czech and Slovak history and culture located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In 1974, several second and third-generation Czech Americans in the Cedar Rapids area founded the Czech Fine Arts Foundation to preserve their Czech heritage and culture. In 1978, the group's growing collection of artifacts and documents caused them to open a Czech Museum in a three-room house, where the museum attracted additional materials and volunteers.

In 1981, the collections were moved to a new building on the museum's current site with the goal of permanent public display. In 1983, the group acquired a 2,200 square feet (200 m2) 19th-century immigrant home and moved it to its property, where it was restored and furnished in the style of the 1880s and 1890s.

By the 1990s, the museum and library were outgrowing its space, and plans for a new facility began, with an architect creating plans for a new 16,000-square-foot (1,500 m2) building. Fundraising for the new facility began during this time. On October 28, 1993, groundbreaking took place for the new building. On October 21, 1995, the building was dedicated, with U.S. President Bill Clinton, Czech President Václav Havel, and Slovakian President Michal Kováč presiding over the ceremony. Some 7,000 people attended the dedication event.

During the Iowa flood of 2008, the Cedar River overflowed its banks, flooding the museum and library with 8 feet (2.4 m) of water and causing severe damage to the exhibitions and contents. Museum staff were able to remove two trucks full of museum and library material before the flood. Fine art and folklore artifacts were prioritized for removal. Two exhibits were destroyed in the flood, including one about the Prague Spring in 1968 and the subsequent invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The museum was moved 480 feet (150 m) from the original site and was placed on an elevated foundation. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 15, 2010. On June 8–9, 2011, the Museum and Library, weighing around 1,500 tons (1,400 metric tons) and constructed of a wood frame with brick veneer, was moved to the new site.

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