Prague, like most major cities in Europe, has numerous public museums in both art and history that are worth seeing. The National Museum with its exhibits on natural history and the Technical Museum just for starters! These and many others are rate a trip out if you are of the sort to enjoy taking in cities via exhibit and gallery. But if you’re hoping to see something with less of a crowd or just slightly off the beaten track, Prague is home to numerous smaller and quirkier museums as well.
The first of these I’d recommend is the Wax Museum. If you’ve never been to one, they’re a strange almost circus like bizarrity that you should try on for size at least once – and what better place than Prague to come face-to-face with a Michael Jackson made entirely of wax? If you’ve been to one in the States, or your home country, I’d still recommend visiting one in Prague, specifically Madame Tussauds wax museum. In reality, there are two wax museums within close proximity of each other in Old Town, and arguably the other (right across the street) is larger and perhaps more polished.
If you read through online travel forums or Trip Advisor reviews, many people seem to prefer the other wax museum. The reasons I recommend Madame Tussauds are twofold; firstly, the ticket price is considerably more affordable, and if you’re a student, sometimes that’s justification enough in itself. Secondly, it has a number of funny and recognizable classics, like the run of pop stars you’d expect, and a strange blood-spattered “Hall of Dictators” with Hitler and Mussolini, but it also has a few interesting Czech individuals like Franz Kafka that can be historically and culturally interesting to look up and learn about.
Leaving the wax museum, you should next stop in to the KGB history museum located near a tarot card shop in a bit of a back street away from any main squares. This museum had a quirky guide that worked there when we visited, but that became part of the charm of the experience in my opinion (he did at one point have me hold an AK 47 and put on a hat, so if that’s of interest certainly stop by!). One needs to keep an open mind as the museum is very mired in Soviet Russian culture, and because of the broken English it can be difficult to tell what the museum staff are trying to explain, politically speaking. That said, there are some really unique samples of soviet spy technology, like a cigarette case that doubles as a gun, or old recording equipment used to listen in on wartime conversations. Other interesting items include drug related paraphernalia, extravagant décor, and weapons that were given to top commanders as rewards during that period. These and other unique items off an different kind of historical insight into leadership structure and culture than many of the more structured and better organized museums.
Finally, on your tour of small but worthwhile museums, you should stop at the Museum of Miniatures for the very tiniest of museums – literally! It’s located not far from the KGB museum near the Strahov Monastery in the Pohorelec neighborhood. The ticket prices sit around 100 KC, just under five USD or 3 Euro. Think of art so small you need a magnifying glass to see its details. Imagine sculpting something so tiny it can sit in the eye of a needle! Similar works have been done by other artist whose work is based in miniaturization – in fact there is a very comparable exhibit at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, California. That doesn’t make the work any less astounding, and despite being small, one can spend quite a bit of time going back and forth between eyepieces for just on more look.
Our Western Civ. program includes Prague.