Illusion Art Museum Prague opens on Old Town Square

A new attraction offers several opportunities for impressive trick photos

Prague has a new attraction on Old Town Square. Just opposite of the Astronomical Clock is the Illusion Art Museum Prague — which works out to I AM Prague. The entrance is a bit hidden among the arcade and outdoor seating for cafes and restaurants. But once you find your way inside, there are two floors with over 500 square meters of exhibitions.

The museum has been open for three months and is still a work in progress as expansions are already planned.

The museum came together quickly in three to four months once the space was available.

“We saw there was a trend for trick art and fun, interactive museums. And there was nothing like it in the Czech Republic at the time. It is still a work in progress to an extent,” Jonathan Hoffmann, one of the founders of the museum, said.

The first floor is dedicated to illusions with several permanent installations that provide good opportunities for selfies. Photography is encouraged, and the staff is trained to not just stand around as guards but to help people get the best photos and also to take over on the camera so the whole group of friends can get in the shot.

The second floor has temporary exhibits, with art that plays on a strong visual element. In the future, more exhibits will be on the third floor as well. The exact nature is still under discussion, but they will again work on the idea of some sort of visual deception or trick.

The illusions and tricks on the first floor are the most popular, Hoffmann said.

The biggest exhibits are anamorphs, which bring order out of chaos, depending on your perspective. “When you look at it, it looks like a pile of mismatched things,” Hoffmann said. But when viewers come to a certain point, the objects create a coherent portrait. One of the two anamorphs looks like a pile of electronic junk, but from the front, it makes the image of inventor Nikola Tesla.

Hoffmann said the most popular exhibit based on photos that have been shared on social media is a chair, or at least it looks like one on camera. Two people stand at specific points, and one person looks like a giant in a photo, and the other is quite diminutive. From an exact angle, several pieces of wood line up to make the image of a chair, which become central to the illusion.

Another popular spot is where people can stand at what is a photo looks like the edge of a precipice, but it is just a painting on the floor.

A more historical illusion style dates back to the Middle Ages, with stretched images that look normal when viewed in a cylindrical mirror.

Many of the illusions were created by artist Patrik Proško, whose sculptures and photographs are now in an exhibit on the second floor called On the Edge of Reality. The photos show abandoned objects that he has painted outlines on with biodegradable paint, for example. There are also geometrical sculptures.

This exhibit will be replaced sometime in the fall with a street art exhibit that addresses the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.

There should also soon be some more information about the history of the 15th-century building known as House at the Red Fox (Dům U Červené lišky), Hoffmann said. This would be in a glass-enclosed courtyard that is currently not used.

“We are trying to find a way to use some of the space we are not using and add some value by teaching the history. We have a treasure trove of photographs and old paintings of the building and Old Town Square,” he said, adding that at one time the building was an apothecary, for example.

The building has many original baroque elements dating back centuries, and some details from as recently as the 1990s. Now it is a protected landmark, and the changes that can be made are minimal, even to the elements added in the 1990s.

Hoffmann says the team is also exploring the idea adding some form of virtual reality that will show changes to the square, which can be seen from the museum's windows.

Once the Astronomical Clock is re-installed, the museum will offer good views of the procession of Apostles at the tops of the hour.

For more information on the museum, visit www.iamprague.eu.

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