Czech Open Information Project
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM
The city's largest open space - Vaclav (Wenceslas) Square - is dominated by the
monumental neo-Renaissance building of the National Museum, which arose in 1885
from the plans of Josef Schulz on the site of the former Horse Gate,
the horse market which used to be held in this area. The idea of founding a
arose in 1818 among a group of patriotically-minded noblemen, who promptly
out the project through the Czech National Museum Society, founded in 1820,
published its own periodical called "The Czech Museum". The museum is laid out
rectangle enclosing two courtyards separated by a transverse wing which contains
main stair and entrance hall. The main facade has three risaliti topped by domes.
thematic decoration is bound up with the whole idea of the land and nation of
The entrance ramp has statues representing the country and its principal rivers,
Vltava, Labe and Otava, by Antonin Wagner, and close by the entrance are statues
Mauder of History and Natural Science which symbolize the purpose of the museum,
namely to house collections that are of natural or historical interest relating
country. The relief on the tympanum, also by Wagner, represents Bohemia as
of science and art, and around the dome there are allegorical statues of
Enthusiasm, Love of Truth and Love for the Past, all by Bohuslav Schnirch.
allegorical figures of individual sciences which adorn the niches in the
lateral towers are
also his work. The decoration programme for the central pantheon is the
remarkable feature of the interior, with wall paintings by Frantisek Zenisek,
Brozik and Vojtech Hynais recording the most famous periods of Czech history.
the cupola there are bronzes of those who have achieved fame in the nation's
culture and science by A. Popp, Josef Myslbek, Ladislav Saloun, Jan Stursa,
Dvorak and other sculptors. Among the columns of the entrance hall there are
Czech rulers by Ludwig Schwanthaler. The sixteen founders of the museum have
busts on the staircase, of which the wall surfaces carry pictures of Czech
Julius Marak and Bohuslav Dvorak.