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By: Martin MÁZOR
Translated by: Vladimir Linder


One of the smallest and most original museums in the world is Zvolen’s Kučera’s Mini Museum. It is well known between Slovak folklorists, but it is well hidden from non-folklorist public. It is located in an old bachelor’s one bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of pre fabricated concrete apartment building in Bukovina, part of Zvolen where this folklore enthusiast lives. Forty-five years old Tibor Kučera, owner, manager, custodian, and lector in the same person sacrificed for folklore and later also for collection of folklore artifacts pretty well forty years of his life.

“I started with folklore as a little boy, when they enrolled me in dance section of Folk school of art in Zvolen,” starts to look into past bearded, longhaired Tibor. “We had an experienced teacher and choreographer Maria Mázor and since she was (and still today is) well known folklorist, she established children folklore group ZORNIČKA (Morning Star). She thought us love for folklore that we carried with us further in life. Well, I liked hockey as well, as Zvolen is a hockey town. But they put me most of the time to be a goalie, where I was always cold. I didn’t like it, so at the end the dancing and folklore has won. Somewhere there are also the beginnings of my mini folklore museum. When we went with our folklore group to perform at different festivals, I would always buy myself a souvenir. Small jingle bell, pin, wooden figurine, or pitcher. Simply said I was surrounding myself with objects that I liked. After a while when I had more pins, pitchers, jingle bells, drumbľa’s, I had to store and arrange them and suddenly it looked like a collection. It was always growing, as I am on the road after folklore almost 40 years. One nice day I thought that it looks here like in a museum, so I named it Zvolen’s Kučera’s Folklore Mini Museum. The folklore is in the name not only because I have here folklore artifacts, but also because I save other items that I collected during and brought here from folklore journeys.”

The walls of Tibor’s apartment are covered with posters of Lúčnica, Sľuk, Marína, Zornička, Jánošík, Technik and other Slovak folklore groups, almost 200 hanging pins from festivals, but also collection of jingle bells, pitchers, bells or drumbľas. Baskets, wistles, fujaras, peasant’s shoes, folk pictures, rich collection of audio and videotapes and LP records or library with antique or new publications. During our visit Tibor introduced us to his freshest exhibit. He named her “The Galery of Kučera’s Ego, consisting of original portraits of the owner himself painted by different artists.

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“Almost everybody that comes for a visit here asks which is the most valuable item of my collection” continues Tibor in the center of the folklore flood. “It is very hard to answer that. Some items are valuable from artistic or collecting view. For me I value items, that may look simple, but for me they remind me strong experiences and people, that are tied together with them. For instance I have here a small metal pin from Strážnice Festival, which is important to me, because it is the only pin from Strážnice in my collection. Later on they replaced the metal pins with plastic hanging pins and they don’t have the magic. Simple looking whistle is for me a symbol of its creator, today, passed away Imrich Vajs from Hriňová, here I have peasant’s shoes from Ľubo Medveď from Čierny Balog, or unique double tong drumbľa from master František Šebo from Levice.”

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Tibor Kučera is bachelor. Apparently because he is too picky. Not only in food, sometimes also in drinking, but also with people, including women. “The women that I liked didn’t want me and those that wanted me on other hand I didn’t want,” explains his bachelorhood our host. “I got used to being alone long time ago, perhaps it is better then get married without a head and then get dramatically divorced and cause pain to whole families and relatives. All I have to do is just to look around me. On the other hand I am lucky on good people. From the childhood my good friend is Jaro Kulich, and in later years I can depend on friendship of artist Dodo Čillík. I am also friend with many Zvolen’s folklorists as Jaro Harazín, Mária Mázorová, Ján Jamriška and many others. I know very well Štefan Nosáľ from Lúčnica, Ján Berky-Mrenica, easterner’s Štefan and Peter Kocak, Martin Taska, Vlado Urban, Jano Dvonč, but also majster Ľubo Kubička or the leader of folklore group Gymnik, Pišta Gerhát. And how many friends I have in Moravia! It is really lots of them and our reunions are enriching me. People are behind everything. Under folklore I understand soul, music, singing, dancing, customs, expression, but also what people do in the original place in original term. The people that live there. For instance when the people from Dobrá Niva are erecting Maypoles, that is folklore for me. Some other folk expressions are for me stylized folklore.”

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Tibor Kučera is known for many years between folklorists with his spontaneousness, independence and humor, despite that in last few months he was forced to slow down as a serious surgery awaits him. What is also left is his hospitality. In his mini museum you not only don’t pay to get in, but on the other hand you will get a cola, mineral water, coffee, warm tea, and even if you want to warm up, he will find something else for you. And despite that he looks as rocker or “Hells Angel” and he also listens to Beatles, Lipa, Stivin, Jarrý, Nohavica, Čechomor or Lucia Bílá, the folklore is resonating most in his soul. All we have to do is to listen what he told us about holidays of his dreams: “End of June I would go to Strážnice, week later to Východná, next to Detva. Then I would go to Terchová and Kokava and I would be satisfied. I don’t need three weeks laying on the beach somewhere by the sea.” That is real Tibor, romantic with big folklore heart.

Translator’s note: Tibor Kučera is a personal friend of mine since around 1989 and thanks to him I am informed about many folklore happenings in Slovakia that I pass on to our readers. These published pictures were taken during my visit on March 13, 2004



Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 10, No. 3, Fall 2002
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 2002-2003 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.