Written by David Creighton
Prague is packed with historic buildings, museums and galleries, and normally these are open only at standard opening times. But if you want to to go on a ‘museum tour marathon‘ or see buildings which aren´t normally open to the public then two annual events, “Museum Night“ and European Heritage Days, give you the chance.
“Museum Night“ (Muzejní noc)
Held at the beginning of June this year, this event is relatively new to Prague (the first event was held in 2004) although it has become a regular fixture in other European capitals. Basically you have the opportunity of seeing as many museums (and some non-museums) as you want to, within a certain period, for free. Inevitably it can be a bit difficult to decide which things you want to see in one night. Nevertheless, it is a great event, and judging by the numbers of people who attended this year, there is a lot of public interest.
The event was a joint effort by a wide range of museums, ranging from the well-known institutions such as the National Museum on Wenceslas Square and the Museum of Decorative Arts, to some lesser known museums and galleries, such as the Josef Sudek Gallery, which is a branch of the Museum of Decorative Arts. Most of the museums and galleries were open from 7p.m. to 1a.m. The event also gave visitors an opportunity to see current exhibitions being held.
To make planning easier, there were five colour-coded bus routes, which linked attractions near each other (for example the National Technical Museum and the Trade Fair Palace), and converged at a central point. The buses were laid on by the Prague Municipal Transport Company.
“European Heritage Days“ (Dny evropského dědictví)
The “European Heritage Days“ (www.ehd.cz) project has been running for some years under the auspices of the Council of Europe, and the Czech Republic has been participating in it for some time now. “European Heritage Days“ is run along similar lines to “Museum Night“, but in this case buildings which are of architectural or historic interest and not normally accessible, are open to the public. The event is staged on a weekend in September and has become an annual fixture on the cultural calendar
Like “Museum Night“, the event is free, and visitors can try to see as many buildings, which range from churches to waterworks, as they can. Some buildings are open only on the Saturday, some on the Sunday, or both. Often there are accompanying events, such as exhibitions about the building or guided tours.
Keep an eye out for other buildings opening their doors to the public outwith the above projects. For example, the National Memorial on Vítkov Hill in Prague throws open its doors for a day in May, although you should check listings guides such as Přehled just to make sure. Remember that some buildings are opened up to the public because exhibitions are held in them, and so this gives you a chance to see the interior as well.