Czech National Museum celebrates its 190th anniversary

Museo Nacional

Hundreds of people used the opportunity on Tuesday to browse the collections of the Czech National Museum for free. The country’s biggest museum has opened its doors to the public to celebrate its 190th anniversary, which falls on the 15th of April. It’s also holding a series of other events to mark its birthday. But most of all it is getting ready for a major renovation project, that will get under way in three years’ time.

National Museum
On 15 April 1818, a group of noblemen signed a declaration on founding a National Museum for the Czech people. Its collection was originally stored at the Šternberg palace at Hradčany, but as it gradually grew bigger, it needed more space, and in 1891 the main building on top of Wenceslas Square was built. Today, the National Museum has 50 buildings and its collection contains more than 20 million objects. To mark its anniversary, the National Museum will hold some special exhibitions in the weeks to come. Věra Přenosilová from the museum’s history department:

“We are preparing some exhibitions about the history of the National Museum. One of them will be opened in May this year and it will present the history and the people around the National Museum. We are also preparing exhibitions about special events in Czech history - we call it the “Eight celebration” and it focuses on 1918, 1948, 1968.”

Standing beside one of Prague’s busiest roads, the National Museum has been affected by the busy traffic and it has been in need of a radical facelift for many years. It has recently acquired the former building of the Federal Assembly located opposite, now the headquarters of Radio Free Europe, that will soon serve as a new administrative building as well as temporary storage for some of the museum’s numerous collections:

National Museum
“After the reconstruction we would like to have bigger and better presentation of our collections in the main building. It’s necessary because new generations want to see our work in a new way. It’s not possible to have the same exhibitions as in the 19th century.”

The last exhibition before the facelift will be on display in 2010. Renovation will get underway in 2011, and the building will remain closed for the next five years. If everything goes according to the plan, the National Museum will be all glittering and ready for its 200th anniversary, with new interactive exhibitions, cafes and museum shops.