Prague’s Lennon Wall gets its own museum
The Lennon Wall Story is a new museum that tracks the history and art of one of Prague’s major attractions. Located just a few hundred metres from the famous Lennon Wall itself, the museum seeks to entice visitors with dozens of photos, historic objects, Beatles memorabilia and a half hour documentary about the history of the wall, known for political and artistic expression. To find out more, we visited the museum and spoke to its founder, Eva Ticháková.
“I’ve got a lot of photographs of the Lennon Wall and how it changed throughout the decades. It has a very interesting history. The Lennon Wall, as we know, started in 1980, when John Lennon was murdered and someone wrote a message for the musician on the wall for the first time. That is the very beginning of the story.
“The Lennon Wall, as we know, started in 1980, when John Lennon was murdered and someone wrote a message for the musician on the wall for the first time.”
“In the photographs you can see how its story developed; how it became a place where people met and somehow protested against the Communist regime, which was here until 1989.”
I understand that the Lennon Wall was the subject of your dissertation. How did that come about?
“That is true. I just had to come up with a topic for my dissertation that was somehow connected to the Beatles, because I am a big fan of theirs and I also studied tourism, so I had to find a topic that somehow connected these two things.
“I somehow came up with this idea, because I like the Lennon Wall and the music. I thought I would show people what is behind this monument.”
I know that you also shot a short documentary as part of the university project which visitors can see here.
“That’s true. It is 30-minute documentary about the history of the wall. You can hear testimonies of people who wrote on the wall in the 1980s, so I would say that it is really authentic.”
“I am a big fan of [The Beatles] and I also studied tourism, so I had to find a topic that somehow connected these two things.”
Is it true that the concept of writing on what is that wall actually predates the Lennon Wall? I read that people were leaving messages there already during the 1960s.
“Yes. Historians have discovered that the writings began to appear even long before that, during the 1920s. People would walk by the wall and leave short messages on it, or on the walls of the nearby streets of Malá Strana.
“Sometimes they wrote love messages, or poems. These were mainly spontaneous ideas rather than something intellectual or political.
“I think it is connected to this whole environment of Kampa and Malá Strana. A lot of artists lived on these streets, and a lot of people would come to their favourite local pubs in order to meet their friends.”
If we move to the more recent period, I understand that by 2019 the Lennon Wall had become a bit too much of a tourist attraction with people spraying all kinds of things onto the wall and the Maltese Order, which owns the wall, complained about it. Since then it has been completely repainted. So what exactly happened?
“The neighbours basically started complaining about what was happening, and the owner had to do something. You can see it in the pictures we have here. There were simply too many people, too much noise.
“Historians have discovered that the writings began to appear even long before that, during the 1920s.”
“There were drunken people coming out of pub crawls who just sprayed nonsense on the wall. This led to the owner to have the wall reconstructed and then officially repainted by dozens of artists.
“Basic rules were also set, which do not allow painting on the wall unless it’s with chalk or pencil.”
One of the things that I found out about while researching your museum is that you have your very own Lennon Wall, on which people are allowed to paint.
“Yes. You have different colours here. You can come with your friends or alone, take a brush and leave a message on this little Lennon Wall of ours, but it’s mainly just for fun.”
The Lennon Wall Story is a museum located below the Napa Bar on Prague’s Prokopská street in Malá Strana. It is open every week on Friday’s (3pm-8pm) and from Saturday to Sunday (11am-8pm). The museum includes a bar where visitors can order coffee and other non-alcoholic refreshments.