Exhibit shows National Museum area history

Panels on the new tram tracks give an overview of the two buildings and park

The middle of tram tracks may seem like an unlikely spot for an exhibition. A new outdoor exhibit on the still unused tracks between the new and historical buildings of the National Museum shows the history of the two buildings and the adjacent park.

The exhibition, called Transformations of the National Museum Buildings and Čelakovského sady, uses 26 panels to map the site's history and present.

The exhibition consists of historical photographs and images mapping the past and present of the Historical Building of the National Museum as well as the original building of the Federal Assembly, which later became Radio Free Europe before becoming the New Building of the National Museum, and the park Čelakovského sady. It deals with transportation, greenery, the original tram lines and the construction of the North-South Highway, which cut off the buildings and park from the surroundings.

“It can be seen that when we pull together, it helps Prague. The surroundings of the museum flourished thanks to the exemplary cooperation of the Prague Institute of Planning and Development, the city district and the municipality, where we really behaved as one city with common interests,” Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček (United Force for Prague) said.

All 26 large panels are located in the area of the future tram line. The exhibition invites people use the entire “museum oasis” area, which again is a pedestrian zone after many years. In addition, the first chairs and tables from the Pražské židle & stolky project were placed here at the end of March, allowing people to sit and relax in public without having to purchase anything.

“You may have heard of the Public Space Creation Manual from our Public Space Office. Here you can see what this document does in practice. The most modern methods of growing trees and flowers have been used. It is also one of the first places to use the new unified furniture,” IPR director Ondřej Boháč said.

The exhibition was organized by Prague City Hall in cooperation with the Prague 1 district and the National Museum, and the author of the concept is the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR Praha).

The area between the new and old buildings of the National Museum, as well as Čelakovského sady, were renovated as part of the extensive repairs to the Historical Building, That building reopened Oct. 28, 2018, to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. The building had been closed since 2011, but the renovation work did not start until 2015 due to legal issues.

The building has been a national cultural monument since 1962 and emphasis was placed on restoring it to its original appearance. Externally, this concerned restoring the lighter shade of the facade and the return of decorative flagpoles to the museum fountain.

Čelakovského sady has a newly planted lawn and new furnishings including benches and historically inspired lamp posts, along with a small dog meadow to make it more attractive for walks and in warmer weather for spending some time.

Landscapers have planted thousands of new flowering plants, many of which are just staring to bloom. Each part of the park has its own floral theme.

The New Building of the National Museum has served as museum building since June 2009, but began as the Prague Stock Exchange in 1938. It was physically expanded to its new metal-and-glass modern design in the late 1960s by architect Karel Prager, and served as the Federal assembly until 1992. After that it was home to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty until security concerns forced the broadcaster to move to a less central location in early 2009.

Tram tracks leading from Vinohrady down to Wenceslas Square were built as part of the renovation, but so far do not connect to anything. It now seems likely that the tracks will be extended the middle of the square to join with existing tracks. The first trams could travel on the tracks in 2022.

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