National Museum celebrates 200 years

Many venues and some usually inaccessible spaces will be open for free

The National Museum will be celebrating its 200th anniversary this weekend, April 14 and 15, with free admission and special programs. While the Historical Building on Wenceslas Square remains under renovation, nine other venues will participate.

Some places that are normally inaccessible will be open, and there will be tours and workshops. Aside from events in Prague, two depositories in Terezín will have programs. Some of the side events require Czech language skills. Most of the venues have children’s programs.

The National Museum is even older than the main building, which was built between 1885 and ’91. The museum began April 15, 1818, at Sternberg Palace. The project was the idea of Count Kašpar Maria Šternberg, with help from historian František Palacký. Its early focus for on natural history and natural sciences.

“We do not just want to remember history on our birthday celebrations, but also show that our National Museum is useful for today,” National Museum General Manager Michal Lukeš said.

The largest venue, while the main building is closed, is the New Building across the street on Vinohradská. It will have its exhibits including the popular Noah’s Ark open for free and tours of some behind the scenes areas.

The National Monument at Vítkov will in addition to the normal spaces make the Presidential Lounge accessible along with its collection of politicians busts. Printing techniques will be demonstrated and a workshop for children will explain Czech history. Tours and performances are also scheduled.

The Náprstek Museum (Náprstkovo muzeum) on Betlémské náměstí currently has an exhibit on Native Americans as well as its long-term exhibits. The museum has items collected by Czech explorers and travelers and focuses on African, Asian and Native American culture.

Related to the Náprstek Museum is the Museum of Natural History in Horní Počernice. It will have some of its depositories and labs accessible to the public.

Czech and Slavic folk culture is showcased at the Ethnographic Museum at the Kinský Summer Palace. The current exhibits include unconventional blueprints and the disappearing women’s folk costumes of Moravia.

Music fans have three venues to choose from. The Czech Museum of Music on Karmelitská street in the former Church of Mary Magdalene will have tours, some of which require online registration. There will be a lecture on historical dancing as well.

The Bedrich Smetana Museum at Novotného lávka will have tours and as always a good view of the Vltva river. The museum is dedicated to the composer of the opera The Bartered Bride and symphonic cycle Má vlast (My Homeland).

The Antonín Dvořák Museum, in the Amerika summer palace designed by Kilian Ignazio Dientzenhofer, has items from the composer’s life. The garden will also have tours. A painting restorer will discuss the frescoes.

The depository in Terezín has a program in the courtyard and tours, but the latter requires online reservations. In the courtyard, people can try on historical costumes. The tour includes a look at digitization and other work the museum does.

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