Stare Mesto Museums Tour (Self Guided), Prague

There are many renowned historical and contemporary museums in Prague. They are usually located in old palaces that are monuments themselves. You can get the feel of the past and present of the Czech Republic while visiting some of the following museums in Staré Město area of Prague.
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Stare Mesto Museums Tour Map

Guide Name: Stare Mesto Museums Tour
Guide Location: Czech Republic » Prague (See other walking tours in Prague)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • The Museum of Decorative Arts
  • The Rudolfinum Art Gallery
  • Jewish Museum
  • Old Town Hall Art Gallery
  • Prague City Gallery at the Municipal Library
  • Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments
  • Bedrich Smetana Museum
  • Art Master Gallery
  • Naprstek's Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures
  • Prague Wax Museum
  • The Museum of Communism
The Museum of Decorative Arts

1) The Museum of Decorative Arts

Located in the Jewish Quarter, the Museum of Decorative Arts is housed in a 19th century Neo-Renaissance building and displays examples of international historical and contemporary arts. The aim of the museum is to leave samples of art and crafts throughout-the-ages for future generations.

The ground floor of the museum holds exhibitions that change every month of art students and renowned artists. On the first floor are the permanent exhibitions of objects from the 14th century to the present day.

The Story of Fibre Exhibition has a wonderful collection of wedding dresses dating from the 14th to the 19th century and miniature dresses for porcelain dolls. In the Print and Image section you will find books and prints made on the first printing presses, photos, public notices and books on graphic arts from the late 19th and early 20th century.

The Treasury Exhibition displays metals and assorted metal objects: jewellery, candlesticks, statues, etc. The Time Machine gallery features clocks and watches from the 15th to the 20th century. In the Glass and Ceramics gallery you will find 16th – 19th century ceramics, 18 – 19th century porcelain and 20th century glass and ceramics.

There is also a small gift ‘area’ at the entrance and a very good café that is often frequented by local artists. There is a small entrance fee to the museum and a little extra for an audio guide.

Opening hours: Tuesday: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm; Wednesday - Sunday 10 am - 6 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Rudolfinum Art Gallery

2) The Rudolfinum Art Gallery (must see)

If you want to visit a really fine gallery while in Prague, don’t miss the Rudolfinum Art Gallery in the Rudolfinum complex. This beautiful Neo-Renaissance building which opened in 1885 was used as the seat of the Czech Parliament for several years before the 2nd World War and became the home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in 1946. The Art Gallery was opened in 1994 and occupies 1500 sqm of well-appointed exposition space. The gallery doesn’t have its own permanent exhibition and specialises mainly in avant-garde paintings and sculptures by famous international artists and local Czech artists. It occasionally displays paintings from older epochs to demonstrate the changes in art over the centuries.

The temporary exhibitions are often organised by foreign institutions in and around Prague. The events taking place are always given a lot of publicity and they attract a great number of people. These events include evening viewings, special interest occupation for schools and seminars. When you have finished visiting the gallery, you can see the rest of the complex, including the Dvorak Concert Hall which has a magnificent pipe organ behind the stage. The complex café is a nice place to relax and have a cup of coffee and some very good cakes.

Why You Should Visit:
Great combination of gallery, concert hall, and café.
Prices for exhibitions fall in the average range.

Opening Hours:
Tue–Wed, Fri–Sun: 10am–6pm; Thursday: 10am–8pm; closed on Mondays
Sight description based on wikipedia
Jewish Museum

3) Jewish Museum (must see)

The Jewish Museum in Prague was founded in 1906 by historian Dr. Hugo Lieben and Dr. Augustin Stein, who later became head of the Prague Jewish Community. The goal was to preserve artifacts from the Prague synagogues demolished during the Urban renewal of the old Jewish Quarter at the beginning of the 20th century.

In 1942 the Nazi regime established the Central Jewish Museum, with the goal of commemorating the heritage of an exterminated people by collecting notable objects of Jewish ceremonial art. Artifacts were shipped to the museum from all the Jewish communities and synagogues of Bohemia and Moravia. The museum reopened under the post-War Communist government but began to flourish after the Czech lands were liberated from Communism.

Why You Should Visit:
Apart from the museum itself with its historical exhibits, you get to see the synagogues, the cemetery, and the WWII memorial. The Klausen Synagogue, now religiously inactive, gives insights into Jewish traditions and is a single example of an early Baroque synagogue in the area.

Best time to see everything is very early or later in the day.
You can also go back the next day in case you don't get to see it all.

Opening Hours:
Winter time: 9am–4.30pm; Summer time: 9am–6 pm, closed on Saturdays
Sight description based on wikipedia
Old Town Hall Art Gallery

4) Old Town Hall Art Gallery (must see)

The Old Town Hall belongs to the most important sights of Prague historical center. The town hall office had been situated in the corner burgher’s house with a tower since the first half of the 14th century. The Old Town Hall is currently comprised of a building complex of several burghers' houses which were purchased and rebuilt over the centuries.

Today the building complex of the Old Town Hall serves as the cultural and representative space of the city of Prague. The Gallery can use the rooms on the second floor in which it presents the latest tendencies of contemporary art to the public.
Prague City Gallery at the Municipal Library

5) Prague City Gallery at the Municipal Library

Not all the buildings in Prague are ancient and among the more modern ones that are worth visiting is the Municipal Library on Marianské Square which houses a part of the Prague City Gallery.

Built between 1925 and 1928 by the architect Frantisek Roith the building isn’t only a library, but also a place for adult education, concerts and exhibitions. Here Prague citizens and visitors alike have access to books, DVD’s CD’s and the Internet, either on the library’s computers or by WIFI. The eastern wing, extensively decorated in Art Deco, is the official flat of the Mayor of Prague.

Above the main entrance of the library you will see fine statues by the Cubist sculptor Ladislav Kofranek and the ceiling of the vast central hall displays an intricate ornamental geometric decoration by Frantisek Kysela, the famous Czech painter and graphic designer.

After extensive restoration in 1994 a part of the Prague City Gallery was installed on the 2nd floor of the library. A new entrance to the gallery was created in 1996 by Valdo Munic.

The gallery has no permanent exposition of its own and holds temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.

Opening hours: Monday: 1 pm - 8 pm; Tuesday - Friday: 9 am - 8 pm; Saturday: 1 pm - 6 pm.
Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments

6) Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments

If you enjoy the macabre, don’t miss visiting the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments next to the Charles Bridge. Don’t get the idea that the Czechs spent their time torturing state enemies, witches or heretics – this rather gruesome collection comes from all over Europe.

The museum is set on three floors and holds 60 different instruments of torture dating back to the Inquisition. There are many you will recognise from films, such as the rack, the Iron Maiden and stocks, and a lot that you won’t including Spanish boots, knee or head crushers, a garrotting chair and a spiked chair. Some of the exhibits are truly mind-boggling – male chastity belts and spiked instruments for anal torture.

Each instrument is accompanied by a picture showing unfortunate victims wearing expressions of very believable agony, and there are detailed explications in various languages of how the instrument was used, why and the effects it produced.

At first sight the museum might seem merely interesting, but as you visit and read about the methods of torture used by our ancestors on people who had done little other than being accused of heresy, you begin to see these instruments in a new, rather stomach-wrenching light.

The visit takes about an hour and a half and there is a museum shop where you can buy books with photos and explanations and posters, but sorry, no thumb-screws!

Open daily 10:00 am – 10 pm.
Bedrich Smetana Museum

7) Bedrich Smetana Museum

Housed in a Neo-Renaissance building that once was the Old Town waterworks near the Charles Bridge, the Bedrich Smetana Museum was opened in 1936 and is dedicated to Bedrich Smetana, the 19th century compositor and patriot.

Bedrich Smetana lived from 1824 to 1884 and was considered as the father of Czech music. He wrote a lot of patriotic music and his 1st Nationalist music was composed of marches used during the 1848 Prague Uprising. His best known opera “The Bartered Bride” was premiered in the new Provincial Theatre where only Czech music was played. He was a member of the society that founded the Czech National Theatre in 1884.

The museum is dedicated to his life and works and you can see many of his music scores, diaries and manuscripts. There is also a microscope under which you can admire his ear bones – he became deaf in later life. There is also a small section about musical life in the 19th century. A podium with a laser pointer will allow you to select Smetana’s and other classical music of his time.

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday: 10.00am - 5.00pm, Tuesday - closed.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Art Master Gallery

8) Art Master Gallery

The Art Master Gallery gives its visitors the opportunity to sense and experience the East European art and more concrete – the one of Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine. Here no display are works of Kavshbaya, Mikora and Gepp. Watercolor, oil, encaustic and etching works are influencing the visitors with all the feelings known to mankind. The Art Master Gallery is also known for being able to present the trends in the East European art.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 11:00am - 7:00pm
Naprstek's Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures

9) Naprstek's Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures

While in Prague do take time to visit Naprstek’s Museum of Asian, African and American Culture which is located in Bethlehem Square.

While these exhibits in the museum aren’t anything to do with Czech culture, they are nonetheless fascinating and also a part of Czech history. Vojta Naprstek was a 19th century industrialist who had a passion for anthropology. After spending ten years in the United States seeking political asylum, he returned to Prague where he opened a museum at first intended to promote Czech industry. He also added Amerindian artefacts he’d brought back from the United States, and these quickly became more popular than the industry side of the museum.

The museum was frequented by scholars who added their own collections from Australia and the Pacific Islands and today the museum holds 95 000 artefacts, though not all of them are on view. The main exposition halls feature Amerindian and Australian objects that portray the way of life of the two continents’ natives in the 19th century. Another hall offers temporary expositions of other non-European culture.

There is a very good gift shop where you can buy posters and books about the museum and details about the various native tribes in the 19th century. If you want to take photos in the museum, you will be asked to pay an additional fee.
Prague Wax Museum

10) Prague Wax Museum

The Prague Wax Museum is separated into two separate buildings and has over 50 figures of Czech and international personalities of the 19th to the 21st century on show.

The first museum, situated in Mostecka Street is dedicated to historical characters of the Czech Republic such as Rudolf II and his court alchemist, the Englishman Kelley, in the alchemist’s workroom, Kafka next to a shop and inn; there are also interiors of the Old Town and rooms from the Karlstejn Castle. It is a great way to discover Czech History.

The second museum located in Melantrichova Street is separated into three parts; in the first you will meet many international celebrities including Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson. In the second part you will find some of the “greatest” dictators: Lenin, Stalin and Castro among others. The third part is dedicated to Magic Prague, a multimedia complex. There is a wonderful kaleidoscope cinema showing Rudolf II, Kafka, Rasputin, Charlie Chaplin and many other famous personalities. The figures are really very well done and easily rival any of those found in any of Madame Tussaud’s wax museums in Europe.

The presence of dictators may seem a little strange, but the idea is educative as well as entertaining.

Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm.
The Museum of Communism

11) The Museum of Communism

If you are interested in Czech political history, then you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Museum of Communism. The museum opened in 2001 and gives visitors an excellent view of life under the communist regime from 1948 to 1989.

In this well appointed museum, you will find posters and artefacts, including busts and statues of Lenin and Stalin, propaganda and objects from political and daily life of the period. There is a projection room that shows short films about the communist way of life notably in Prague.

You can see replicas of a schoolroom, a workshop, a typical shop, the living room in an archetypal working class home. A part of the collection deals with the communist dream of the conquest of space. There is even an interrogation room with an original noose from Pankrac Prison. Another part of the museum is dedicated to the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and here you will find a replica of the Berlin Wall, complete with graffiti.

In the gift shop you can buy posters, books, t-shirts and baseball caps. The museum offers no opinions either for or against communism; it merely presents the facts and leaves the visitor to decide for himself.

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Prague, Czech Republic

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Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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