National Museum almost complete

The whole area around the iconic building will be revitalized

After several years, the renovation work at the National Museum is ending. The building will reopen on Oct. 28 in time for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia, as well as 200 years since the founding of the museum. It has been closed since July 2011.

In addition to a completely new interior, people can also look forward to a revitalization of the surrounding area. Changes to public spaces will affect the park surrounding the museum, called, Čelakovského sady, and the surrounding sidewalks.

The unifying element of the whole space will be light granite pavement connected to new, clean look of the façade of the National Museum building.

National Museum general manager Michal Lukeš said the Historic Building will increase in its importance. “After its opening, the National Museum will serve not only for exhibitions, but there will be rest zones. I am therefore glad that the City of Prague decided to invest in making the neighborhood of the National Museum more dignified,” he said.

“I believe that the modifications of the public space will be the first step toward the overall revitalization of the surroundings of highway and Wenceslas Square, which will make it not only a museum but also a favorite place for leisure and relaxation,” he added.

There are plans to create a public park focused on plants exclusively from the Czech Republic.

It will be located behind the building. “We want to create a place with a lot of greenery on the slope near Legerova Street, which will revive the whole area. The locals could use the place as an oasis in the center of Prague, where they can relax and enjoy their free time. All plants will be of Czech origin only,” Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) said.

Across the street from the Historical Building is the museum’s New Building, which was formerly home to Radio Free Europe.

The streets between the two museum buildings will also change. The paving will be unified and a tram line will go through it. Where the tram will go after it passes this area has yet to be determined but there are several options being considered.

Jakub Hendrych, architect and project manager at the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR) said the importance of space and the intended use predetermines that this space is primarily for pedestrians. “It will have a tram line with stops, though it is not functioning yet. Stops and tracks will contribute to the significance of the square between the National Museum's buildings as a public transport node,” he said.

In the future, it should also be easier to connect to Vinohradská and Škrétova streets as well as to extend the tram line via the park Vrchlického sady, in front of Hlavní nádraží, or via Wenceslas Square.

Cars will still be able to drive through the area, but the plan calls for increasing the possibility of cycling.

The overall renovation will improve visibility and safety in Čelakovského sady. The central area will then be reserved for the rest of the passers-by.

Inside the building, restorers and painters are completing the new flooring and finishing the Pantheon. Windows are also being finished. Special attention is being paid to interior painting to ensure the colors are historically accurate.

The work has not been without controversy. Bullet marks on the front of the museum were supposed to have been left visible as a reminder of the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion, but when the scaffolding came down they were barely visible compared to the rest of the building.

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