Museum of Communism opens in Prague

How ironic is this - a museum of communism is about to open on Prague's Na Prikope street in the same building as a branch of that ultimate symbol of capitalism, McDonalds. The Museum of Communism is the brain child of a young American businessman called Glenn Spicker. Visitors get to see everything from the statues you might expect to a mock-up of a Communist torture room. By Ian Willoughby.

The documentary maker Jan Kaplan worked as an adviser to Glen Spicker. At a press preview of the museum, Jan Kaplan told Radio Prague's Ian Willoughby that the museum is not what he called a kind of "Stalin Land".

"The idea is that people come here and walk in a way through time. It's a three dimensional pop-up book. It's revisiting the recent past of Czechoslovakia."

The Czech actor Martin Dejdar was also at the press preview. Ian asked him whether visitors would get a real impression of Communism from the museum?

"I think so. For young people and visitors it's very good. It's important for us to understand what is it 'communism'."

By the way, Martin Dejdar does the voice of the Czech Bart Simpson

While the museum opens on December 26 it's not actually complete yet. When it is it will contain three different sections. The first is entitled the dream of communism. It features propaganda material and a class-room with communist school books and is meant to get across an idea of the idealism some people felt in the early days. The next part is the nightmare - the harsh reality of communism, everything from empty shop shelves to an interrogation room. The last section focuses on the 1989 Velvet Revolution, so visitors will leave on an up. Glenn Spicker says the owners have even more ideas.

"Right now you can't see it but we're trying to work with light, sound - even smells."

There was a particular communist smell?

"For me coal - brown coal. When I first came across the border that was the particular smell."

Admission to the museum is 130 crowns - about the price of a cinema ticket. Mr. Spicker says that there will be a scale of prices for different types of people.

"We're giving discounts for students, for retired Czech people. And certainly it's free for political prisoners and anyone who suffered under the previous regime."