A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a last-minute trip to Prague to go see one of my favorite musicians ever. I only had 48 hours in the city, but I figured they would be enough to squeeze in some contemporary art.
I had been to Prague before, so I didn’t really have to see the main tourist attractions, and I focused all my attention on contemporary art. Unsurprisingly, I know. And despite being a national holiday in Czechia, I had a wonderful time. Prague is such an easy city to walk around, the temperatures were just perfect and although it was packed with tourists, it was nice to just take a couple of days off and wander around. Not to mention that, while browsing and going from one museum to another, I ended up visiting all the major attractions too. Just another reason to let contemporary art guide you while travelling.
And since I was able to visit many different exhibitions in such a short amount of time, I want to share my favorite museums with you. These three museums will let you tour Prague from the bustling center to more quiet areas, allowing you some great views along the way. All three have a great program of both local and international artists and offer different events and side activities.
So, without any further ado, here are three contemporary art museums in Prague to add to your itinerary.
Let’s start in the very center of Prague, right off Charles Bridge. Crossing the river heading toward Malá Strana and Prague Castle, get off the bridge and take a detour on Kampa Island. The small island is mostly a park, but right in the middle, you will find Sova’s Mills on the eastern bank of the River Vltava. The mills, overlooking the river and Charles Bridge, host the Museum Kampa.
Open in 2003, the museum focuses on the collection of Jan and Meda Mládek, who actively supported Czechoslovak artists during their exile in the second half of the 20th century. It displays both the collection, with a strong focus on local artists, and temporary exhibitions, presenting Central European modern artists.
The museum is divided into different galleries over 3 floors and is a great starting point to start exploring the Czech art scene and familiarizing yourself with local and Eastern Europe artists. Make sure to step outside on the main terrace to enjoy the best view of Charles Bridge and the River Vltava. And climb up to the rooftop terrace to enjoy a stunning view over Prague Castle.
Another famous spot is the garden right outside the museum, where you will find the sculptures of giant babies. The statues, the eerie Crawling Babies by David Cerny, were originally created to be placed on the TV Tower in Zizkov. But as they were too heavy for the tower, they got replaced by replicas, and the original babies were moved to Kampa.
U Sovových mlýnů 2, 118 00 Malá Strana
Open daily, from 10 am to 6 pm
Info, exhibitions, and tickets: museumkampa.cz
National Gallery Prague
It is almost impossible to talk about contemporary art and art in general in Prague without mentioning the National Gallery Prague. Founded in 1796, it is one of the world’s oldest public art galleries and one of the largest museums in Central Europe, and it now spreads over several buildings across the city. The collection comprises art from the Middle Ages to contemporary, and you will definitely need far more than 48 hours to visit all its locations and temporary exhibitions.
But if you are only interested in contemporary art, take a short tram ride to the Trade Fair Palace (Veletržní Palác) and you will be served some awesome exhibitions. Along the ride, don’t forget to enjoy the view of both Malá Strana and Staré Město (Old Town).
Once you get to your destination, you will find a massive building, one of the first and largest functionalist buildings in Prague, that dates back to the 1920s. The building houses temporary exhibitions on its different floors, as well as a permanent collection of art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Here you will find local masters and contemporary artists, as well as international up-and-coming artists. The museum has large, spacious rooms and exhibition spaces and it is in a quiet area, making it perfect to escape the frenzies of Prague city center.
Don’t forget to visit the adjacent Kolektor cafe for super stylish, Instagram-ready drinks and snacks, in a minimal and curated ambient. Honestly, one of the best-looking cafes I have tried in town.
National Gallery Prague
Info, tickets, and opening hours: ngprague.cz
DOX Centre for Contemporary Art
Last on this list, but only because it is the furthest away from the center, DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is actually a real must-visit in Prague. Tucked away in a residential area north of the city center, Holešovice, it is actually pretty close to the Trade Fair Palace of the National Gallery Prague and together they make a good day of art explorations.
The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is the largest independent institution focusing on contemporary art in the Czech Republic. It opened in 2008 in a former factory and aims to create a space for research, presentation, and debate on important social issues, where visual arts, literature, performing arts, and other disciplines encourage a critical view of the so-called reality of today’s world.
It features a cafe, a cool design shop (check their ceramics, they have amazing pieces), a bookshop, but most of all the Gulliver Airship, a monumental structure used as an exhibition gallery suspended over the rooftop of the center. If you are not scared of heights, Gulliver is literally the cherry on top at DOX Center.
DOX Centre for Contemporary Art
Poupětova 1, 170 00 Praha 7-Holešovice
Info, tickets, and opening hours: dox.cz
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