The National Technical Museum in Prague reopens on Tuesday after more than four years of renovations. The biggest such institution in the country, with more than 50,000 items in its collections, the museum will be featuring some all-time favourite exhibitions, such as one on the history of transport. But it is also launching some brand new exhibits as well.
Several generations of Czechs are familiar with the monumental building of the National Technical Museum on the eastern edge of Prague’s Letná plain. Its doors closed in September 2006 for extensive renovations that included a makeover of all of its exhibitions.
The museum’s grand reopening on Tuesday night is reserved for President Václav Klaus and other dignitaries; the public will have a chance to see what’s changed for the first time on Wednesday morning. Jitka Zamrzlová is the head of the museum’s collections department.
“We will open the transportation hall, which is similar to what it looked like five years ago. There is also an astronomy exhibition, and then the exhibit on architecture and design. That’s a brand new exhibition; our museum has a very big collection on architecture and this is the first opportunity to present it to the public.”
The museum reopens with five permanent exhibitions. These include displays on the history of transport, printing and astronomy, as well as a photographic studio from the early 20th century. One new exhibit, on the museum’s top floor, is dedicated to architecture and industrial design. Petr Krajči is one of the curators.
“Here the visitors can see the highlights of the National Technical Museum’s architecture collection. The exhibit features architecture models, models that were used during the education of civil engineers, and also a nice collection of lamps and other lighting devices.”
Some of the items featured in the exhibit include a 3D model for the completion of Prague’s Old Town Hall that the architect Josef Gočár designed in 1910, original plans for some of the gems of modern Czech architecture, as well as replicas of the studies of several Czech architects of the time. Petr Krajči explains.
“The exhibition covers approximately the period between 1860, with some of the most famous buildings of 19th century architecture, such as the National Theatre in Prague, up to 1989. It focuses on Czech architectural cubism and functionalism of the 1930s.”
The museum building was completed in 1941, but was soon taken over by the Nazi authorities. First exhibitions opened there in the late 1940s, but it was not until after the fall of communism that the museum got the whole building for itself. The most popular exhibition has always been located in the museum’s main hall. Jitka Zamrzlová again.
“That’s where the cars are, and locomotives, airplanes, motorcycles and bicycles. It’s quite famous, and when people come to the museum, everybody first goes there.”
The renovation, which cost around 370 million crowns, is not yet completely finished. Popular replicas of coal and ore mines in the museum’s underground as well as a new exhibition on household technology should open next year, and the façade of the red-brick functionalist museum building will also get a facelift in the coming months.