A Visit to Prague National Technical Museum
It’s a real pity that Prague visitors often leave having experienced the city only by its although considerable architectural marvels and little else. Just recently I had the chance to ask a group of students in visit to the Czech capital if they had visisted Prague’s most awesome art gallery a.k.a Veletrzni Palac; the predictable answer was, of course, no!
By chance Veletrzni Palac isn’t far from the other little-know wonder that is the National Technical Museum. Hailing from the top of Letna hill the Technical Museum just re-opened about a year ago, after years of reconstruction and, by my own unscientific poll, it’s probably the Czechs’ favourite museum. Few foreign tourists are ever seen up here but there’s always visitors coming and going through its revolving doors and huge queues during the yearly white nights. The ticket price is a fair 170kc (7 EUR) and gives you access to the whole exhibitions grounds but no right to take pictures which, luckily, can be purchased for an extra 100kc (4 EUR) and that can provide an experience in the experience to the photography buffs among us.
The main exhibition hall is where adults become kids again and start admiring things with their eyes wide open and their mouths in fly-catching mode. The items in the main hall are too many to grasp with one sight and heads turn up to the airplanes hanging from the roof and down to the cars and locomotives then all around to bycicles and motorbikes: the history of transportation is on display with some really amazing pieces such as early Bugatti models and cars from times when Benz hadn’t yet met its beloved Mercedes.
The underground hosts instead some military gear: torpedos from the British Army, underwater grenades, cannons and some recently pimp’d Toyota Hilux from the last Iraq War.
From the military underground you can then shoot up to the third floor and proceed to visit the extra exhibitions that are none less interesting. From the top, where some items of architecture and design are on show, you can move on the floor below where the history of print is on display and then to a fascinating room that is home to astronomical tools such as ancient models of the solar system, globes, sundials, compasses, and a beautiful astronomical clock.
But the ground floor also offers one more interesting room: a little exhibition on the history of photography from the daguerrotypes to digital photography where the real piece de resistance is one of the very first photos ever by none other than Monsieur Daguerre himself: a truly exciting item religiously kept under modified atmosphere.
To complete the tour there is now a sponsored exhibition of the famed Parker pen.
All in all, totally worth a visit. To get to the National Technical Museum take tram number 26 from Namesti Republiky, get off on Letenske Namesti and walk at the top of the hill in direction of the Old Town. If it’s summer, after you satisfied your cultural appetite you can gobble down a cold pivo at the beer garden in front of the museum and admire one of the best views on the golden city.