Auditorium Maximum (MU Great Hall)
Representativeness of the auditorium maximum at the Faculty of Law affords an ideal setting for academic ceremonies and celebrations of Masaryk University. The Faculty of Law is itself very unique because of its history – it was the only building included in the pre-war Academic district scheme. Central university authorities had moved into this building, which also served, since its beginnings, as the main assembly point for its representative character. Therefore, the auditorium maximum of the Faculty of Law has played a role of the university assembly hall.
Auditorium maximum was, until the middle 1930’s, intended to serve only as a provisional measure. However, since the second half of the 1930’s, a need to adjust the assembly hall to respond to permanent demands of the university emerged. A proposal to decorate the façade of the auditorium was accepted – its aim being a quest for an artistic and ideologically dominant feature for the whole area.
In 1938 the art committee suggested a motif of the painting – Prometheus bringing fire to man. Antonín Procházka was asked to carry out this task. Procházka, on the basis of the assignment, created a 7,5 x 13 m painting. This large composition is divided into three horizontal strips. In the upper strip God Helios announces a new day to mankind, with goddesses of Time accompanying him. Allegorical figures of all sciences that were at that time represented at the university are depicted in the middle strip. A monumental figure of Prometheus with a flaming torch in the center is a dominant feature of the composition. The lower strip depicts mankind in the middle of everyday work. When considering a meaning of the painting, a group of figures yearning for the fire of knowledge is connected with Prometheus on its symbolic level.
The year 1939 signified a tragic fate for Czech universities. The unfavorable situation also affected the building of the Faculty of Law – construction works commissioned by Brno Gestapo affected the original appearance of the building substantially. The building became a dark symbol of Nazi power in Moravia. Similarly, the painting of Prometheus was doomed to destruction; however, owing to Czech workers’ courage, who were constructing the building at that time, the painting was hidden in the cellar where it remained until the end of 1945. After the liberation of Brno, the damaged painting was collected from the shelter. The painter’s partner Linda Procházková took part in the restoration of the work.
During the later reconstruction which took place between 1993-1994, the auditorium was equipped with air conditioning, new chairs and organs. Academic ceremonies, concerts, significant lectures and award ceremonies of the Universitas Masarykiana Foundation are held in this assembly hall.