Inside Kafka's head: Prague's most famous moving sculpture to get a makeover

Crucial restoration work to ensure the head continues to rotate will begin in late September. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 14.09.2023 16:19:00 (updated on 14.09.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The famed moving statue of Bohemian author Franz Kafka's head in Prague is scheduled for restoration, with the dismantling process starting at the end of September, according to a property company that is overseeing the process. 

From end-September, for a few months

The famous sculpture – a creation of Czech artist David Černý – will be out of operation for several months and will also feature a new swivel system after work is completed.

On Monday, Sept. 25, the CPI Property Group (which owns the statue) will erect a scaffold with a protective tarp around Kafka's head. The intricate process of dismantling the sculpture's individual components will be undertaken using a crane from above. With the repair work underway, there is a possibility that the statue will be reinstated in its place by the end of this year.

Necessary work due to gradual deterioration

The Kafka head sculpture, one of the Czech capital’s most well-known tourist attractions, stands at an impressive 10.6 meters in height, weighs 39 tons, and cost CZK 30 million to build. Since its installation in front of the Quadrio shopping center in 2014, it has captivated visitors with its unique feature of continual rotation throughout the day. It was created to honor the memory of one of Czechia’s most famous authors, Franz Kafka.

However, due to the rapid wear and tear of various components over time, the sculpture's operation has had to be curtailed on multiple occasions in recent years.

Kafka's head is operational once per hour, every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is based outside the OC Quadrio shopping center in Prague 1.

The engineering idea behind the sculpture is reminiscent of industrial automation and robotics. Inside the kinetic-based statue, there are 42 motors and nearly a kilometer of cables. The sculpture's stainless steel panels rotate independently, causing Kafka's visage to take on a variety of intriguing expressions. Given its technological complexity, regular servicing has been a necessity. Each year, the sculpture undergoes extensive maintenance to keep it in optimal condition.

The upcoming restoration project is expected to not only repair the wear and tear but also ensure that this iconic piece of Prague's artistic landscape continues to enchant visitors for years to come.

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