Compared to other cities in Europe, Prague museums don’t have a whole lot of fame or visitor draw. Nonetheless, the city has some fairly interesting museums to see if you get tired of all the beauty there is to see outside. While this is not an exhaustive list of Prague museums, these are some of the ones that should be high on your list to see while in Prague.
National Museum (Historical Building)
The Historical Building of the National Museum finally reopened after an 8-year long reconstruction period, and for the first couple of months while admission was free, the lines were as long as 2-4 hours to get inside. Now that the hype has died down and you have to pay to get in, the wait is much shorter, but still worth the cost and the time. The gorgeous neo-Renaissance hall leading to the exhibits is somehow grander than the beautiful and imposing exterior would have you believe. Inside, visitors are surrounded by artifacts dating back to the creation of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. From music and sport to European history and democracy, you can learn all about Czech contributions to the world.
Though this is the most beautiful and arguably the most important, the National Museum is officially comprised of 11 other museums in Prague. These include the New Building, which is right across the street from the Historical Building in Wenceslas Square; the Czech Museum of Music, the National Memorial on Vitkov Hill, and the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures. At Vitkov Hill, you can find soil from every conflict that the Czech Republic has been involved in. It’s also one of the best places in the city to see the sun set.
National Gallery (Fair Trade Palace)
Located in Prague 7, the National Gallery at the Fair Trade Palace houses a huge collection of modern and contemporary art both from the Czech Republic and abroad. Sure, Prague is not home to the Louvre or the Met, but you can still find works from Picasso and Van Gogh in one of the floors of the National Gallery. Like all modern art, you’ll find a combination of works that are moving and insightful, and those that are literally trash thrown in a bucket. Don’t let the “Palace” in the name fool you; the exterior looks like an administrative building.
Like the National Museum, the collection is actually spread out over several different buildings in the city with the Fair Trade Palace housing the majority of the works. For instance, Sternberg Palace houses European art up to the 18th century. Kinsky Palace, in Old Town Square, has rotating exhibits of Czech art. These two are more proper “palaces.”
To call this a Jewish “Museum” would be a bit of a misnomer, as a ticket to the “museum” actually grants you access to four historical synagogues in the city as well as the Old Jewish Cemetery. There are two tickets available, the Jewish Museum ticket, which costs 350 czk, and the Jewish Town ticket, which costs 500 czk (this is probably the most expensive thing to visit in Prague). The only difference between the two is that the Jewish Town ticket includes entrance to the Old-New Synagogue, which is the oldest synagogue in Central Europe that is still in use.
Both tickets include entry to the Maisel Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, the Klausen Synagogue and the Spanish Synagogue, as well as temporary exhibits located in the Robert Guttman Gallery. Aside from the beautiful architecture, you’ll find specific exhibitions at each one, including the history of Jews in the Czech Republic, Jewish traditions, and children’s drawings from the Terezin Ghetto.
Museum of Communism
People visiting Prague are often most curious about life under Communist rule. At the Museum of Communism, you can learn all about it as you meander through the well-maintained and immersive sections of the museum. You’ll learn about the realities of a police state as well as day-to-day life in a Communist regime. The museum has a mix of original historical documents like propaganda posters, as well as huge prop installations like walkable models of a grocery store and a police interrogation room.
National Technical Museum
Prague’s National Technical Museum is one of the largest in the city, and it’s particularly worthwhile if you’re more science-minded. The massive transportation hall features three floors of cars, steam engines, motorcycles, boats, and planes. Don’t let yourself get too exhausted in the transport section, because the rest of the museum awaits, featuring collections of astronomical instruments, clocks and time-pieces, printing presses, ancient and modern photography, and even household appliances and children’s toys. The latter two are the kind of exhibits that allow you to peek into Czech life in the mid-19th century.
Gallery of Art Prague (Dali, Mucha, Warhol)
This small gallery in the center of Old Town Square is worth a visit if you want to escape the crowds of the square. Each floor of the Gallery of Art Prague (GOAP) is dedicated to one of the three featured artists: Dali, Mucha, and Warhol. You can pay for just one, two, or all three, which makes the gallery customizable to your preference. Inside, you’ll find original prints, paintings, and drawings. The Warhol gallery also has a little bit of information about his life and his family’s roots in Czechoslovakia.
If you’re more interested in Mucha than the other two, you might be better served by the Mucha Museum, just a few blocks away. It’s the only museum in the world dedicated to the art nouveau artist. The exhibit includes posters, oil paintings, and personal photos and documents of his life.
Prague Public Transport Museum
This one is farther outside city center than the others and the exhibit signs are available only in Czech. However, if you’re kind of a train geek, the Public Transport Museum is still a nice visit. The large warehouse of the museum includes historical city trams and buses dating back to the inception of the public transportation system. Some of the World War II era trams have their original signs banning Jews from riding (though you might need a Czech friend to help you translate them).
Strictly speaking, the Klementinum is not a museum, but it is a series of important buildings you can visit in the center of Prague. Among them is the one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, the 18th century baroque library, which contains ceiling frescos and several astronomical globes. Entrance is only by guided tour and includes the Meridian Hall, which was used to determine when it was noon, and the astronomical tower, which has several instruments used to make meteorological observations. The library is the best known reason to visit the Klementinum. What you might not know is that the astronomical tower offers some of the best views of Prague.
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