Prof. RNDr. Karel Kuchař
Professor Karel Kuchař was born on April 15th, 1906 in Prague. After graduating from a preparatory high school in 1924 he went on to study geography and natural science at the CU Faculty of Science. While a student he was an assistant to Professor Švambera. Following his doctoral studies he taught at the CU Geographic Institute, where in 1935 he defended his work Jezera východního Slovenska a Podkarpatské Rusi and became the youngest assistant professor at the Faculty of Science.
In the 1930s he helped write the text for the Monumenta cartographica Bohemiae series. Together with B. Horák he created an inventory of old maps of the Czech lands, both while working at the CU Geographic Institute and the Geography Institute of Masaryk University in Brno. In 1935 he organized a unique exhibit in Prague and Pilsen about cartography of the world, and a year later embarked on a research trip to Albania, which was at the time not well mapped. Upon his return he published articles and maps.
After the universities were closed by the Nazis, Kuchař was assigned to the State Planetarium, from 1942 he worked as an assistant at the State Geophysical Institute. When the universities were re-opened, he returned to CU where among other duties he headed the State Map Collection up until 1973. The collection at that time acquired numerous confiscated documents and also assumed the map collections of the National Library and the National Museum. In addition, the collection conducted its own publishing activities, particularly the Cartographic Survey journal, which Kuchař edited from 1946–1960. In the late fifties he became head of the Department of Cartography and Physical Geography, a position which he held until 1974. He did not receive any academic advancement until 1968, when he was appointed extraordinary professor, and at the recommendation of the rehabilitation commission he was nominated to be a full professor. Karel Kuchař died on April 16th, 1975 in Prague.
Scientific and publishing activity
Kuchař’s lifelong body of work was extensive. His three basic postulates for map making were to create an esthetic, comprehensible and original work. He is known as the author of the high school atlas which he prepared together with Bedřich Šalamon, and school wall maps and other maps honed to his own standards of perfection in terms of esthetics and content. One cannot forget the textbook titled Kapitoly z nauky o mapách, which served as the foundation for later university textbooks on geographic cartography Přehled kartografie and Základy kartografie. In 1959 he prepared a work called Vývoj mapového zobrazení území Československé republiky which was published in English as an expanded version containing copies of maps of the Czech lands up to the 18th century and was titled Early Maps of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. In 1959 he teamed up with Anna Dvořáčková in Brno to publish the catalog Mapová sbírka B. P. Molla.
Kuchař’s masterpiece is considered the unique work Monumenta cartographica Bohemiae, Moravicae, Silesiae atque Slovaciae (1960) containing numerous previously unknown maps, including the oldest map of Moravia. Unfortunately, no more than 30 trial copies of this magnificent achievement were printed. Officially, this work was not published. The explanation given for the ban on the publisher, Academia, was lack of paper.
The importance of Professor Kuchař lies primarily in his efforts to familiarize the general public with cartography and geography. Along with esthetics and originality, this was part of his credo. For the majority of us, he is known as the author of high school atlases, textbooks, wall maps and handy maps. But from a much more professional standpoint, his work is invaluable. His series from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s is among the greatest works of Czechoslovak historical cartography, a fact which remains unchanged by the senseless obstacles placed in his way by the system at that time. To commemorate this exceptional figure, the gallery of cartography of the Map Collection now bears his name, paying tribute to the man who selflessly and tirelessly headed the Collection for 30 years.
Thanks to the license which the Library of Geography was kindly provided by prof. Karel Kuchař Jr., who inherited the copyrights, the full texts and maps of this important Czech scientist are available online. Documents are available on the website of Professor Kuchař or in the Geobibline database.
Link to the website of Professor Kuchař Here.
MARTÍNEK, Jiří. Geografové v českých zemích 1800-1945. Praha: Historický ústav, 2008. 245 s. ISBN 978-80-7286-133-0.
MUCHA, L. Život a dílo profesora Karla Kuchaře. Acta Universitatis Carolinae Geographica. 1976, roč. 11, s. 9-26. ISSN 0300-5402.
CHRÁST, Josef. Nový web věnovaný prof. Karlu Kuchařovi. Ikaros [online]. 2014, roč. 18, č. 2 [cit. 2015-01-12]. ISSN 1212-5075. Dostupný z: http://www.ikaros.cz/novy-web-venovany-prof-karlu-kucharovi
Karel Kuchař. Wikipedie: Otevřená encyklopedie [online]. Poslední změna 24. 10. 2014, 20:08 [cit. 2015-01-15]. Dostupné z: http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karel_Kucha%C5%99
NOVOTNÁ, Eva. Výstava k 100. výročí narození geografa a kartografa prof. Karla Kuchaře. Ikaros [online]. 2006, roč. 10, čís. 6 [cit. 2014-01-12]. ISSN 1212-5075. Dostupný z: http://www.ikaros.cz/vystava-k-100-vyroci-narozeni-geografa-a-kartografa-prof-karla-kuchare
UNIVERZITA KARLOVA V PRAZE. Přírodovědecká fakulta. Knihovna geografie a Mapová sbírka. Prof. Karel Kuchař: český geograf a kartograf [online]. Praha: Univerzita Karlova, ©2015 [cit. 2015-01-12]. Dostupné z: http://web.natur.cuni.cz/gis/kuchar/