Professor Beneš´ Cabinet of Mysteries

The infinite variability of nature, the uniqueness of the human body, physical intimacy, the diversity of organic form, shame or perversity, beauty and order. All this is evoked by the new exhibition at the House of the Knights called Proffesor Beneš´ Cabinet of Mysteries, which was borrowed from the Museum Montanelli in Prague. The curator of the exhibition, Dadja Altenburg-Kohl, offers a completely new sensory experience, the aim of which is “to realise what is our common human desire to blend not just with nature itself, but also with everything that is beyond us, perhaps with the universe, that by its nature surpasses man“.

Through paintings, objects, videos, assemblages and endless rows of glass boxes with various insect specimens, the exhibition offers us the opportunity to explore and understand two related collecting worlds. The world of Dadja Altenburg-Kohl, a successful doctor and collector of contemporary art, and the world of the leading Czech neurosurgeon and passionate entomologist Professor Vladimír Beneš.

At first glance, the exhibits presented in the exhibition give an incompatible impression. This is only apparent, however, because on closer study the viewer comes to know deeper connections. After all, it is nature, its unlimited variability, its original fragility and at the same time its elemental destructive potential, that is still one of the main inspirational starting points for artistic creation.

Dadja Altenburg-Kohl is a Czech doctor and businesswoman who lived and worked between 1970s and 1990s in Germany. She is a philanthropist, collector and patron of the arts. After her return to the Czech Republic, she founded the Montanelli Gallery in Prague in 2003, later Museum Montanelli, one of the few private museums of contemporary art in the Czech Republic.

Prof. MUDr. Vladimír Beneš, DrSc. is a prominent Czech neurochirung. From 1997 to 2020 he worked as the head of the Neurosurgery and Neurooncology Clinic of the Central Military Hospital in Prague and 1. LF UK. Since 2017 he has been the head of the Institute of Clinical Neurology at the Institute of Clinical Neurosciences. He has been collecting beetles since childhood. His collection today contains approximately 25,000 specimens, the first dating from 1962. He caught beetles in many countries, and about 20 new species have been discovered in his collection. He is co-author of an entomological research paper describing a newly discovered ground beetle from China.

The exhibition Professor Beneš´ Cabinet of Mysteries will last to 28. 10. February 18th, 2024. 2. 2024.
Venue: the House of the Knights, Smetanovo nám. 110, Litomyšl.

Professor Vladimír Beneš talks about his entomological collection on the Czech Radio.

Accompanying programme