The Lobkowicz family boasts one of the oldest and largest private art collections in the Czech Republic. Come Thursday evening, the family will celebrate the last quarter century of achievements at a gala at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge.
Those include the recovery of the family’s collections and properties, which were first seized by Nazis at the beginning of World War II and then by the Communist regime, according to William Lobkowicz, a member of the family and the founder and chairman of the Lobkowicz Collections Foundation. The non-profit organization, based in the Czech Republic, oversees the collections.
It wasn’t until the passage of Czech restitution laws in the 1990s — and a subsequent 22-year effort to recover all of the properties and art — that the collections became available to the public, Lobkowicz said.
John Shattuck, former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, will provide a welcome address to the expected 300-400 attendees at the gala. Lobkowicz will follow with a presentation, where he is expected to announce plans for a forthcoming Lobkowicz Library and Study Center at the family’s castle in Nelahozeves in the Czech Republic.
He will also discuss the restoration of the nearby Dvořák House, birthplace of 19th century composer Antonín Dvořák, which will become a museum and music academy.
In honor of the 125th anniversary of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, Lobkowicz’s presentation will be followed by a brief performance of Dvořák excerpts by violinist Josef Špaček, Czech Philharmonic concertmaster, and pianist Robert Levin, a professor emeritus in the Harvard University Department of Music.
Lobkowicz said he hopes Thursday’s gala will draw attention to the preservation of the collections and Czech culture “in a place like Boston, which is such a hub of education, music, culture, and learning.’’ He was born and raised in Boston and notes the family has roots in the city tracing back two generations.
“We’re really half Bostonians, half Czechs,’’ he said. “[The gala is] about making those connections to our shared world culture.’’