Situated in the heart of Prague just steps away from Wenceslas Square, lies the Museum of Communism, a museum bursting with character. From the moment you enter you’ll quickly notice the quirks and eccentricities, appropriate to the subject matter at hand.
Firstly, a red carpet led me up the large staircase of what was once a very glorious building. Then at the entrance to the museum itself I was met by an overweight, slopping-looking lady who barely spoke any English sitting on a bright red office chair and checking tickets. Towering behind her, a massive statue of stern-looking Lenin with his right arm raised towards the exhibit. The museum shop, comprising a single postcard stand and very small display counter, was closed (probably for further effect).
In comparison to other museums I’ve been to, the Museum of Communism in Prague was probably one of the most chaotic in terms of organization – but I have a feeling that this was part of the act. It indeed felt as though I had travelled back in time to the communist regime in the country. A bit of a disconcerting feeling to be honest.
The effect is created by the varied and peculiar objects which ‘adorn’ the interleading rooms. Expect to see everything from old busts of the communist leaders, motorbikes/tools/household objects produced during the war, a replica of a communist classroom, uniforms of all sorts, plenty of communist flags and even a replica of an ice-cream parlor – a bizarre but very effective visceral presentation of the rooms that no doubt transports you into that era.
I even came across some spy equipment which was used to tap into and record phone conversations at that time as well as some agricultural implements and sporting equipment dating from the communist regime.
Moreover, I must stress that the Museum of Communism in Prague is a good starting point for those who would like to brush up on their knowledge of communism within Europe or for those who have limited knowledge.
A minor complaint, however, is that I found the many of the signboards/texts in each room very difficult to read. Not only because of the length of each but because of the bright red background upon which shocking yellow font (go figure!) is printed which was a strain on the eye. Translations were also questionable.
Overall, the museum can be visited within an hour (or longer if you wish to read the red-yellow signboards with difficulty). But halfway through I was tired and gave up. Perhaps an audioguide would do the trick here. But something tells me that such technological advances may not be possible at this museum or would even perhaps ruin the impact or effect of the intended experience.
Lastly, the Museum of Communism left me with a strange, unsettling feeling. But I wasn’t sure if it was to do with the subject matter, the straining of my eyes from reading the signs or because of the fact that the squeaky floor boards had been driving me mad for an hour. Nonetheless, if you’re up for something a little different, something that gives you insight into the communist regime, then this is a museum to visit.