National Museum prepares major renovation


Prague's National Museum this week introduced a plan for a complete renovation of its main building, located at the top end of Wenceslas Square, which has long been in urgent need of reconstruction. The National Museum plans to re-open to the public in four years’ time with new exhibition grounds, a lookout from the dome on top of the building and much more.

The National Museum,  photo: CzechTourism
The neo-Renaissance building of the National Museum was opened to the public at the end of 19th century and hasn’t been renovated since. Its façade is still riddled with bullets from 1968 when the Soviet occupants mistook the museum for the nearby Czechoslovak Radio building. And with a two-lane road on both sides of the building and two metro lines crossing right underneath it the building has suffered considerably. Head of the National Museum Michal Lukeš summarizes the reasons behind the renovation:

“First of all, the building is in terrible condition and doesn’t meet safetz requirements. If we weren’t able to renovate immediately we would have to close it down. Our main aim is to save the historical building but we also want to expand the premises, to connect it with the recently acquired building of the former Federal Assembly. After the renovation, the two buildings should create one large space, a museum of a European or even world format.”

In the last couple of years, National Museum employees have been packing thousand of exhibits into crates and moving them to various depositories in Prague. They themselves have had to move home as well - to the newly acquired glass-and-steel building of the former Federal Assembly, which opened to the public less than a year ago.

“It is very important to make visitors feel good here. We want to create modern expositions drawing on our experience from recent projects. The National Museum must be open to the public and friendly to visitors. So we are trying to establish things that have been missing here, such as a children’s corner, cafés and museum shops - things that are considered normal in other European institutions of this kind.”

This time next year, the National Museum will close its doors to the public. The renovation itself should start at the end of next year and if everything goes according to plan, it should be completed by June 2015. The overall cost should be around 4.5 billion crowns (some 215 million US dollars).

Photo: CTK
The head of the National Museum Michal Lukeš hopes that along with the museum’s renovation, city authorities will go ahead with the planned makeover of Wenceslas Square and redirect the busy four-lane road on top of it. In that way, the National Museum could once again become the dominant of Prague’s main thoroughfare.