Big changes coming to National Museum area

The new and historic museum buildings plus the State Opera should be more accessible

The City Council has approved steps to renovate the area around the National Museum. Changes will take place this and next year between the historic and new buildings of the museum, which are across the street from each other. Some city officials would like to see even more done to make the area friendly to pedestrians.

“The aim is to cultivate this culturally and historically significant place on the occasion of the centennial of Czechoslovakia and the reopening of the historical building of the National Museum. Drivers do not have to worry, the modifications will not limit the traffic on the highway, but pedestrians will finally enjoy a pleasant space,” Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) said in a press release.

The changes are based on a concept vision by the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR).

“The historic and new buildings can hardly be reached by foot today. Newly, there will be a completely new space that will have the character of the square. The changes will also go through Čelakovského sady,” IPR director Ondřej Boháč said, referring to the park around the museum.

Automobile traffic dominates the area around by the National Museum and the nearby State Opera, both of which are cut off from pedestrians due to the north-south magistrála highway. Both the historical building of the National Museum and the State Opera are currently being renovated.

Traffic changes are planned following the renovation of Vinohradská Street. The most significant changes include the tram line to Vinohradská Street. It is planned to be extended to the main railway station, Praha hlavní nádraží.

From Vinohrady toward Wenceslas Square, there will also be a two-way lane for cyclists. An expansion is planned for the island at the Muzeum tram stop, where a new crossing over Legerova Street will be made. The implementation of these changes will take place in the course of this and next year.

The surrounding area of the National Museum will be a pilot location for new benches, waste bins and bike stands based on a design contest for new street furniture.

A significant part of the work is planned to be completed in time for the reopening of the historic building of the National Museum in October 2018, which will coincide with the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia. The State Opera should reopen in 2019.

Deputy Mayor Petra Kolínská (Green) also is in favor of the changes and would like to see more. “It is great that we … have made another important step toward rehabilitating the surroundings of the magistrála. In order for the museum oasis not to become a deserted island, we must also make progress in improving pedestrian access to the National Museum's Wenceslas Square buildings,” she said, according to daily Metro.

Improvements along the highway in the city center are already being proposed. “Their implementation should be voted on next Tuesday. Perhaps they will receive the same support as … cultivating the space between the historic building of the National Museum and the former Federal Assembly building,” Kolínská said. The new building of the National Museum was the Federal Assembly until the end of 1992 and the was the headquarters of Radio Free Europe until 2008.

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