The Best Museums in Prague
The rich history and artistic heritage of Prague are very well represented in the city’s museums. From historical and art collections to interactive exhibits, Prague's museums are the perfect answer to a rainy day.
Prague Jewish Museum
A complex of six Jewish monuments that include synagogues, a Ceremonial Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Prague Jewish Museum was created to document the history of the Jewish population in Prague and surrounding areas. During and after WWII, the museum also worked tirelessly to preserve valuable artifacts and Judaica books that would have otherwise be stolen or destroyed by the Nazis. With a collection that now exceeds 150000 items and includes an extensive archive, the museum is an excellent place to learn about Jewish customs and tradition and attend special concerts and events.
National Museum in Prague
Prague’s largest and most impressive museum is home to a massive collection of over 14 million items, which cover everything from the prehistory of Bohemia and Moravia to paleontological and zoological items. Although the museum has one central building location, it also runs smaller sites with specialized collections, such as the Czech Museum of Music, the National History Museum, and The Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures. Fun bit: if you want to see the original statues from Charles Bridge (the ones you see on the bridge today are reproductions), you'll have to visit the Lapidarium, the museum's branch that's home to some of the most impressive stone sculptures in the country.
Karel Zeman Museum
Director and animator Karel Zeman pioneered the art of stop-motion moviemaking, combining live action with animation in some of the best science fiction films of the early and mid-20th century. This new and exquisitely set-up museum is an interactive work of art that pays homage to Zeman’s work, where visitors can catch a ride on a flying machine, operate a miniature submarine, and take their own trick photography on movie stages.
Kafka Museum in Prague
Even people who never set a foot inside the Kafka Museum still make it here to catch a glimpse of the famous statue set in the courtyard. The work of renowned Czech sculptor David Černý, the statue consists of two urinating men standing above a lake shaped as the map of the Czech Republic. You can even send an SMS message to an electronic device connected to the statue to have the men spell different words and quotes on the water’s surface as they urinate.
Kafka, who was a master of the weird and extraordinary, would’ve been proud of the design.
Once inside the museum, fans of Kafka can see first editions of his works, drawings and photographs, correspondence, diaries and personal letters. Although the museum is small, the presentation of the collection – set among gloomy glass cabinets and models of artifacts featured in Kafka’s work – sets the perfect tone for a quick glimpse into the mind of Prague’s most influential writer.
Prague’s best museum of modern art is easily overlooked because of its location. Set next to some of Černý’s most famous work (three giant crawling babies) and right on the river, the beautiful former mill is home to a large collection of works from the 20th century, which include everything from giant chairs to a row of penguins set on the river. A mix of paintings, drawings and sculptures by the pioneers of abstract art (including Czech artist František Kupka) blend with contemporary works by some of Europe’s finest artists.
Museum of Communism
A private museum put together by an American expat, the Museum of Communism offers an eclectic mix of items representing daily life, propaganda, education and police presence during Communist times. Sometimes chaotic, sometimes reflective, the museum is a glimpse into a dark time in the country’s history that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Need more after visiting these museums? Prague is home to dozens of museums worth a look – whether it's raining or not.
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