Prague’s wealth doesn’t lie only in its churches, palaces and magnificent gardens. It’s also well worth exploring the priceless artworks that are hidden in its dozens of museums and galleries. Discover a world of prehistoric finds, paintings by medieval masters, elegant High Baroque statues, Renaissance jewellery, 19th century technical marvels, and pieces by contemporary artists for whom Prague is a unique showcase for their work.
Every capital has its National Museum. Prague is no exception, and you will find the monumental neo-Renaissance building at the upper end of Wenceslas Square. The National Museum is the largest museum complex in the Czech Republic and possesses an impressive collection from many fields of endeavour. Though its main building is currently undergoing extensive renovation, its collections can still be explored. Among the most popular are the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures, and museums dedicated to the world renowned composers Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák. Meanwhile, the National Technical Museum contains several of the Czech lands’ technical treasures, such as the first automobile produced here, model fighter planes and astronomical instruments used by Tycho de Brahe.
Glowing penguins and exhibitions with attitude
If modern art is your thing, pop along to Museum Kampa. This unique gallery, which is located in the Sovový Mlýny building, is home to the largest collection of paintings by the world renowned artist František Kupka. Make sure to venture out of the museum and take in its exterior, which is home to original sculptures and – of all things – glow-in-the-dark penguins on the bank of the Vltava. Contemporary works await you at the progressive DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Holešovice, which regularly runs controversial exhibitions and is a big hit with visitors.
Do you prefer gems that are a few centuries older? If so, don’t neglect to visit the Prague Castle Picture Gallery, which houses the collection of Emperor Rudolf II (one of the greatest of art lovers), including pieces by such masters as Rubens and Tizian. While at the Castle, you can also explore the collections of Lobkowicz Palace, one of the biggest in Europe. Among its treasures are original scores with notes by Mozart and Beethoven. Meanwhile, you can view the works of 19th century Czech masters of landscape painting at the City Gallery Prague’s spaces at the elegant Troja Chateau.
Josef K and medieval jewels
Naturally, Prague has a museum dedicated to its most famous son. At the Franz Kafka Museum you will be immersed in the mysterious environment of the world famous writer and learn more about his work and personal life. Another famous Czech, Alfons Mucha, who enthralled the world with his Art Nouveau works in the early 20th century, has his own museum in the New Town. The National Gallery, whose collections are housed in several buildings, boasts the largest collection of visual art in the Czech Republic; you can view medieval art at the Convent of St. Agnes, Baroque at Šternberk Palace and modern art at Veletržní Palace.