The rich artistic heritage of Prague and the Czech lands can be admired in Prague's many museums and galleries.
The numerous expositions of the National Gallery, Municipal Gallery, National Museum, and other institutions contain extensive collections of art of all styles and eras, ranging from fine art to applied arts to sculpture, and spanning over two millenniums.
Alfons Mucha Museum
This is real treat for art lovers, particularly those with an interest in art nouveau, but anyone who likes to look at nice pictures will have a grand day here. The museum is all about life and work of Alfons Mucha, the famous Czech painter who was the defining artist of the art nouveau movement in France, and who spent his last years in Prague decorating various buildings and landmarks in his unique style. Open daily from 10am to 6pm, the museum holds over 100 exhibits which include everything from decorative panels to pages from his sketchbook.
Antonin Dvorak Museum
Set in a baroque pleasure house built at the beginning of the 18th century, the Museum of composer Antonin Dvorak has been in existence since 1932. The museum holds documents concerning the composer's life and work, such as music autographs, correspondence and other written material, as well as pieces of art and programmes, posters, and personal objects. The Dvorak Museum is a part of the Czech Museum of Music, which belongs to the complex of the National Museum. Fans of classical music may also want to explore the Bedrich Smetana Museum. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except for Mondays.
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Bedrich Smetana Museum
It's improbable (or downright unfortunate) to spend time in Prague without hearing Smetana's symphonic poem Vltava (The Moldau), one of the best pieces of classical music by one of the greatest Czech composers of the 19th century. Smetana was the first composer to write music that was specifically Czech in character, influencing many future Czech composers such as Antonin Dvorak. After studying music in Prague, Smetana conducted the Bohemian Provisional Theater Orchestra, in which Dvorak played viola. The museum houses several artifacts of the composer, giving us a glimpse into his complicated life.
At the top of Vaclavske Square, King Wenceslas guards the National Museum (Narodni muzeum). Built in 1818, it is the oldest and largest museum in the Czech Republic, and undoubtedly the most well known by visitors to Prague. The museum is more geared towards natural science and history, and its permanent exhibitions include: prehistory of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia, mineralogical, petrological, palaeontological, and zoological collections (try saying that five times fast), an osteology collection, the cabinet of book culture, and an anthropology exposition. Just don't come on a Tuesday, or the closed sign will put a damper of your sightseeing plans.
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Czech Museum of Fine Arts
The Czech Museum of Fine Arts houses the finest collection of 20th-century Czech art, which began as a series of works acquired at the beginning of the 1960s. In addition to the permanent exhibition, frequent temporary exhibitions highlight the diversity of contemporary Czech art. The museum is open daily except Mondays from 10 am until 6 pm, as well as on public holidays. If you're the holder of an ICOM, ISIC, ISTC, AICA or Prague Card, admission is free, as well as for children under the age of 6.
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Even if you haven't read any of Franz Kafka's novels or stories, the Kafka museum will throw you into the world of a man you may not know about, and will hopefully leave you wanting to get your own copy of The Trial or The Metamorphosis (conveniently sold in several languages in the museum's gift shop) afterwards. The interactive exhibition takes you through several displays dedicated to the writer's works, and then several detailing the writer's life (and inevitably the role of Prague in it) chronologically. A number of eerie videos really set the Kafkaesque mood, so once you leave the museum you might just experience some of the tricks the city plays on the mind. Opening hours are daily 10.00 a.m. - 6 p.m., January - February 2006 daily from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
19-21 Husova Street
Located at the Klementinum in the heart of the Old Town, the Klementinum Gallery is run by the National Library and most often features exhibitions by Czech artists. The beautiful halls of the gallery alone are worth checking out for their historic and artistic relevence. The entrance to the gallery is from Krizovnicka Street, by the Charles Bridge. Be sure to check their website for a full listing of exhibitions, which change fairly often.
Puppets are very popular in Prague and indeed the city is the unofficial puppet capital of the world, due to the long tradition of puppetry here. It therefore stands to reason that the puppet museum here should be one of the best around and by all accounts it indeed is. We have to admit that this is the only place on the site we haven't actually been to: we're terrified of the wee buggers! If you don't share our irrational fear then there's plenty here to keep you entertained, not least actual puppet shows in the special theatre on the premises.
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Sex Machines Museum
Three floors house more than 200 objects and mechanical appliances on view, ranging from dildos of all shapes and materials to bondage equipment to anti-masturbation devices, as well as a gallery of art with erotic themes, a cinema with old and rare erotic films (definitely worth checking out), sexy clothing and many other things pertaining to human sexuality. Curious? Oh we know you are, so read more in our article on the Sex Machines Museum. Plus, this is one museum gift store where you'll really find something worth taking home, if you know what we mean...
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