The National Museum Main Building
in Prague is set in a commanding position at the top of Wenceslas Square
. It is currently closed for reconstruction until 2020.
But its annex, the National Museum New Building, is open and hosts a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions.
Prior to its closure, the National Museum Main Building was the oldest and largest museum in the Czech Republic. This monumental neo-Renaissance structure was designed by Josef Schultz as an architectural symbol of the Czech National Revival. Construction lasted from 1818-1891.
The National Museum (Národní Muzeum) is built on the site of the former Horse Gate, so named because Wenceslas Square once served as the main Prague horse market.
The Main Building's entrance hall is grand, with sweeping staircases and intricate stonework. There are beautiful frescos on the ceilings. However, the exhibition rooms were looking tired, so these will be the main beneficiary of the restoration works.
With regards to the New Building, prior to joining the National Museum it was home to Radio Free Europe. And before that, during the communist era, it served as the national parliament of Czechoslovakia.
The National Museum New Building is an iconic structure and very imposing. On top of the ground level sits a larger, oblong block of concrete and glass, elevated high above street level. It is huge.
This building was constructed in the 1930s, before Nazi rule and the communist era, but it was perhaps a portent of what was to come. Stand near it, and the building exudes a chilling power, more than any other in Prague.
We list the most significant exhibitions at the National Museum New Building in our Prague Events section.
To discover more about the National Museum, take a Prague tour:
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour & Boat
Prague All Inclusive Walking Tour & Boat.