Czech National Museum
The Czech National Museum in Prague, Narodni museum in the Czech language, opened in 1818 on Wenceslas Square. The museum consists of two buildings and houses over 14 million natural, historical and cultural objects from the region.
Count Sternberk was the first president of the museum and, as a scientist, collected massive natural science exhibitions. The mineral, fossil and precious stone collection is impressive as is the collection of ancient and modern wildlife that lived within the area.
During the mid 1800s, collection of historical began and the museum became a symbol of Czech national pride. By 1841 the historical displays rivaled the natural science exhibitions both in number and scope.
Prior to the instatement of Frantisek Palacky, a Prague historian, as the secretary to the museum; interest in historical and scientific antiquities were relegated to the nobles and politicians of the country. The commoner was not expected to have any attraction to them. This all changed in 1827 when the museum started to publish their journals in Czech, instead of the German language that commoners could not understand. A whole new world of interest opened for the common people of the region.
In the 1960s the Czech National Museum was separated into five different departments. The Department of Prehistory and Protohistory contains items used in every day life during ancient times. A Nikosthenian painted dish and silver gilded rhyton are most valued. The Department of Classical Archeology boasts several collections of Medieval and Renaissance period items including jewelry, liturgical objects, relics and 18th and 19th century glass. The Department of Ethnography displays how the region progressed from a rural community to urban area. The Department of Numismatic possesses a collection of coins, both local and foreign, from all times periods. Finally, the Department of Theater displays exhibits on theater history, costumes, music and info on the famous Czech puppet theater.
The main hall is currently closed until June 2015 to repair damage sustained by bombs during World War II and machine gun damage received during the 1968 Warsaw Pact Intervention. The second building, opened in 2009, is open daily (except the first Tuesday of each month) from 10 am to 6 pm.
The museum sits at the end of Wenceslas Square, originally a horse market in the mid 1300s. The square holds 40,000 people and holds a pivotal place in history standing witness to protests during the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which resulted in the fall of Communism in the country. The museum stands behind the monument to St. Wenceslas, a statue of the 10th century ruler as he sits on horseback with four other saints.
Other places of interest in the area are the State Opera, an 1896 five-story Neo-Renaissance mansion called the Wiehl house, an Art Nouveau structure with golden nymphs called the Grand Hotel Europa and a plethora of shops and restaurants. Also near the square is the Franciscan Monastery where families can enjoy gardens, playgrounds and picnic grounds.