You arrived to Prague to enjoy its numerous beauties, and it´s raining cats and dogs. Your initial sightseeing turns into a complete failure and all the clothes you went in are soaked by rain… but do not worry, there are many great activities in the city you can do indoors– as visiting one of the many Prague museums. And those offering amusement, information and joy are many!
The National Museum – to see or not to see?
Let´s start with the National museum – the most well-known museum in Prague is unfortunately not the most interesting one. At least not at the moment. Why is that? Well, the museum had undergone an extensive reconstruction and was closed for nearly 8 years.
And while it was recently open for public again, not all of the original or planned expositions are yet in full service, making the current selection rather limited.
There are exceptions however- if you are interested in seeing the beautiful building dominating the upper part of the Wenceslas square.
My little children loved to visit the building just to see the huge skeleton of a whitefish, which, indeed, is unique and rare, and has a nice 19th century acquisition story in the background. But coming to a capital of an inland country and admiring bones of a large sea animal is an absurd combination.
The previous said, there yet is one space you should visit, and that´s the Dome, the central upper part of the building. It has been reconstructed and opened only recently, and offers a breathtaking view of the city.
Museum of splendid things
In tight relation with the original meaning of the word Museum – the seat of Muses, goddess of Beauties, Arts and Crafts – The Prague Museum of Arts and Crafts (Uměleckoprůmyslové muzeum) offers a wide selection of beautiful objects of all kinds – glass from medieval glassworks as well as the modern Czech glass artpieces, china not only from China, furniture, decorative objects, just everything that was accompanying our ancestors in their daily lives. It always makes me think how modern, timeless most of these things – from chairs to shoehorns, were. All the forms that the wood or clay can get… unbelievable.
From a wheel to a spacerocket
Škoda cars, Jawa motorbikes, Supermarine Spitfire, Heyrovský´s polarography or contact lenses made by Otto Wichterle – there are many areas of technique Czechs excelled in, and those and many more are exhibited on the premises of National Technical Museum. And spending all day here is by far not a boring time: after you have seen all the beautiful vehicles, airplanes, you can make your own film in a special television studio, or visit an alchemistś shop or a mock-up ore and coal mines. Not to speak about the Merkur construction set playroom – an originally Czech playing set enables you to make anything from a bicycle to a cran, or a spacecraft from your own fantasy world!
Music to your ears
Prague Museum of Czech music – another venue that can make your stay more enjoyable and colourful. Did you know there is an instrument called glass harmonium, or another kind of music instrument that plays without being touched called Teremin? Those and much more about music can be seen and heard int the Czech museum of music, located in Malá strana. And when you are lucky enough, you can even listen to a concert in the museum´s large hall. An experience that will make your stay unforgettable…
The laboratory of the power
Did you know Prague had a kind of mausoleum recalling the Lenin´s one on the Red Square in Moscow? Not long after the death of Klement Gottwald, the first communist president of the state, the officialities decided to mummify his body and expose it to the public. Looking for an adequate space, the communist régime used the Monument to the Czech democracy – the underground spaces underneath the Vítkov hill, which were used to commemorate soldiers of the WW1, whose bravery helped to create the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. Today, you can participate in an inter-active game unveiling the terrors of the communist régime and its first president. Not a nice show, but very instructive one!
Do you know what Laterna Magica is? What the Purkyně eye experimenting gallery is? Have you ever been to a sound laboratory? How the films you know cheat your ears and your eyes? Answers to all these questions and much more can be found in the National film museum Nafilm! And you will get out amazed about the tricks and possibilities of the visual arts of the past and today…
When a building is a museum itself
Obecní dům – the Municipal House – reaped a wave of bitter criticism after its opening in 1912. Obsolete, excessively decorated, ugly – this and much more was written and said, because the society longed for new trends and styles, modern, linear, easy. More then 100 years later, we admire the ornamental art nouveau style and understand the passion of its authors: their strive for beauty, perfection, nature reflexes in art, style. Municipal House is the best exemplary of the Art nouveau in central Europe, characterised by all its elements and patterns. A guided tour through the highly symbolic decorative building is strongly reccomended!
A parallel world
A unique emotinal experience that cannot be find anywhere else in the world – a visit of the Prague Jewish museum desribing the world of Prague Jews from early middle ages to WW2 . The oldest Jewish synagogue in central Europe, built in Gothic style, the picturesque Jewish cemetery, and above all, the Memorial of the Jewish community that perished during the war. A must.
Sending a postcard in a particular way
The Czechoslovak Republic was founded in October 1918, and just a few days after its birth, the postal museum was established. And exists till nowadays… By the way, the Czech postal stamps belong to the best, nicest and most valued in the world, and sending a postcard from this very special place will make it especially interesting, if not highly valued not only in the philatelistic world. The museum is situated close to the Old Town and you will not regret a visit!
Family rain program – two museums you should not miss when visiting Prague with children
Czech Republic – is a large exposition of different Czech sights made from LEGO cubes. St. Vitus Cathedral, Karlštejn castle, Ještěd tower and many more places are there to be adored by the little and adult children alike! The authors say more then 2,9 tons of LEGO cubes were used, and the whole tiny world took almost 2000 days to be put together.
The Kingdom of railways is a similar exposition, but interlaced by a net of railways and moving models of trains, both historic and modern. Children can control the traffic, make the trains move and stop, and even sit behind the dashboard of a real streetcar or city bus. And fathers get back to their young years…