Friday, 15 October 2010

View from Riegrovy Sady

Oxford? Rome? Try again. That's right. It's Prague's National Museum, built between 1885 and 1891 and one of the architectural highlights of the Golden City. This well-known landmark has often been mistaken (by Russian soldiers as well as tourists) for a government building, owing to its grand design and prominent position at the top of Wenceslas Square.

But once enter its great colonnaded vestibule (star of many a Hollywood movie by the way), and there's no doubt of the building's purpose: to tell the story of the Czech and Slovak lands through its extensive natural history collections. Minerals, rocks, meteorites, fossils, zoological specimens - even the remains of a mammoth - are on show for all to marvel at.

For some time now, though, this grandiose expression of the Czech identity has been bursting at the seams. There's simply too much to display. The country's social history (particularly its recent communist past) now has a dedicated space in the next door building which was once the HQ of the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly and later that of  Radio Free Europe. And from July 2011 the museum will be shut for four years for a complete overhaul. The plan is to build a museum precinct, comprising the old and new buildings, as well as the State Opera, linked by a newly-landscaped pedestrian zone; while the roaring dual carriageway which at the moment splits the museum from Wenceslas Square will be re-routed underground.

If you're visiting Prague before then and want to take a last look inside the museum, details of opening times and current exhibitions can be found here


Jilly said...

Stunning shot, Alex. Bravo!

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