Brief notes of the Institution’s history
Academician František Klokner
From its establishment in 1921 to 1961The Institute was established as Research and Testing Institute of Materials and Structures under the Czech Technical University in Prague Prague in 1921, thanks to the initiative of the Prague university professor and later academician, František Klokner. The Institute bore Klokner’s name from 1947 to 1953, when it was incorporated into the newly established Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences and renamed to Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITAM).
The first four decades of the Institute’s activities, from 1921 to 1961, were described in the book "Forty years of the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics" (in Czech, pdf, 185 109 KB) , published by the Academy of Sciences in 1961. During this period, the Institute probably reached the apex of its prosperity, having approximately 170 employees and several departments in Prague and Brno.
Upon a 1958 resolution of the Academy’s Presidium, since 1960 some departments were located in the former monastery Emauzy (Na Slovanech), the post-war reconstruction of which was to a large extent the work of the Institute, see e.g. "The Reconstruction of the Emausy Abbey" (pdf, 2 959 KB) , Stavební obzor 2, 1993.
The atmosphere of that period is well-documented in a mini-photo-serial from field tests ("Hercules in Litvínov"), which survived together with its commentary, and demonstrates that work was not always taken too seriously.
In its work the Institution connected strictly scientific activities with the solutions of numerous practical tasks; however, it did not meet the orientation of the Academy which supported the development of a purely theoretical research. The situation was undoubtedly affected also by the withdrawal of the academician Bedřich Hacar from the post of the Institute’s director, and the oncoming of a new, politically-engaged generation. A typical political character of those times is indicated in a photograph from a ceremonial assemblythe purpose of which remains unknown, maybe the establishment of the Academy in 1953, or perhaps the election of Bedřich Hacar an academician in 1960, with regard to his portrait hanging in the background and the presence of František Klokner, who died later that year.
In 1962, the Academy Presidium passed a resolution on the reorganisation of the Institute and its division to two separate units - ITAM under the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences (ČSAV) and Construction Institute which became part of the Czech Technical University in Prague. One of the last meetings of the original ITAM took place in the Emausy Abbey in 1963. The new, reorganised ITAM with 60 employees, started to function here on 1 June 1963.
A 1968 photo-serial from the 70th birthday celebration of professor Alois Myslivec, the Institute’s director, documented faces of ITAM employees of the late 1960s.
congratulates to the academician
Bechyně to his 85th birthday
Numerous scientific as well as social meetings were organised in the former Abbey refectory, such as the 85th birthday celebration of the academician Stanislav Bechyně (1972) or a conference after his decease(?).
A contemporary historical document of the Institute’s evolution is a treatise published on the thirtieth anniversary of the ITAM’s activity 1953-1983 (pdf, 2515 KB) and a commemorative medal (jpg, 86 KB) issued for the same occasion (jpg, 86 KB). At that time, ITAM purchased a recreational building in Nové Město at Jáchymov in the Krušné (Ore) Mountains, where ski-courses for children of the Institute’s employees were organised regularly.
In the 1980s, the Institute consisted of five scientific departments and a detached unit in Plzeň. Under its director Němec, the scientific research returned in its range to practical tasks and extended to the fracture mechanics and mechanical engineering spheres.
At that time, the former building of Abbey workshops, damaged during the war and later utilised by Prague conservatoire, was reconstructed to the Central Laboratory of Experimental Mechanics (CLEM). In many aspects CLEM, commencing its activities in 1986, became the most advanced laboratory for experimental mechanics in the former Eastern block. Although the Emausy Abbey was not a very suitable space for a technically-orientated scientific institute, it provided ITAM with a necessary peaceful and creative environment for over thirty years.
After 1989, several changes in the Institute’s structure occurred. The number of employees was administratively reduced, when some were dismissed, other transferred to universities, and the Plzeň unit was separated. However, the most difficult situation occurred when the Abbey was donated to the Benedictine order and the Institute was forced to seek new premises. After numerous attempts at various alternatives, and after a temporary stay in two other institutes (ÚTIA and ÚRE), the Academy finally purchased a building under construction owned by ELSYS in Prosek, into which the Institute gradually moved, CLEM as the last department in 1998.
In 1995, a new department of the Institute, ARCHISS (Associated Research Centre for Historic Structures and Sites), was established with a detached unit in the town of Telč. Thus, the sphere of cultural heritage research gained – among constitutional tasks – a stronger position corresponding to its traditions as well as national and international financial support. This step was the result of negotiations between the Academy director, professor R. Zahradník, Telč mayor and later Senator of the Czech Parliament, Mgr. V. Jehlička, and ITAM experts. It enabled the development of a interdisciplinary research in this culturally, socially, and economically significant sphere. Its results gained international publicity and ITAM became one of three Centres of Excellency in the Czech Rep. supported by the European Commission within the so-called Fifth framework programme for science promotion.
|Bedřich Hacar||1940-1960||(Establishment of the ČSAV)|
|Alois Myslivec||1961-1968||(reorganisation of the Institute)|