If you’re going to visit only one museum while in Prague, this is the one. Founded in 1818, the National Museum is home to a vast collection of over 14 million items. It has six major departments, including the Department of Old Czech History, where you can learn about the fight for the independence of Czechoslovakia (which eventually happened in 1918), 15th-century weapons used in the Hussite wars, fine Bohemian crystal from the 18th century and many church-related items from the Middle Ages.
Please note, the 19th-century Main Building is currently under reconstruction, however the collections are currently being stored in the impressive New Building, which has a café and hosts a number of exhibitions. Additional buildings in the complex—including the fascinating collection of puppets at the Museum of Czech Puppets and Circus Acts, in Prachatice, South Bohemia—remain open, and are worth a visit.
The museum is free the first Monday of every month. If you want to save money, go then, but if you want to avoid large crowds, go any other day. There’s also a family ticket (allowing entrance to two adults and two children) that’s only slightly more expensive than the normal day ticket. This is one of few museums in the world where photos are allowed, but remember to buy a special ‘photo/recording authorisation sticker’ when you get your ticket, or you’ll get into trouble with the guards.
Alfons Mucha Museum
You might catch a glimpse of Mucha’s work when you visit the National Museum, but to truly understand his art, you should head here. Czech painter Alfons Mucha is best known for his decorative panels, which mostly depict beautiful women in the Art Nouveau style. A visit here is also the only way to catch a glimpse of his three-dimensional works and the pages taken from his Parisian sketchbook. One of the highlights of visiting is the chance to see Mucha’s Parisian studio, which has been reproduced here using some of the original furniture, personal objects and photographs.
If you plan on visiting the Kafka Museum, come here first. Thanks to a partnership, you can get half-price tickets for it if you buy them at the same time you buy your entrance to the Mucha Museum.
Museum of Decorative Arts
An unusual museum dedicated to the history of design, but mostly focused on the 20th century. This is the place to visit if you want to explore unique furniture, poster design and jewellery. And definitely the place to see if you’re after more unusual craftmanship, including goldsmithery, wicker objects, weaving and even the unique art of bell founding. The museum is also home to the ‘Karlštejn treasure‘, a collection of almost 400 objects recovered from inside the Karlštejn Castle during renovation work.
The museum is closed on Mondays. The museum café, popular with local artists and located near Charles Bridge, has better prices than most nearby cafés and bars.