The 8 Best Art Galleries in Prague
Thinking about what to do on these cold and rainy days? Christmas is over and Easter is still far, but Prague always has an ace up its sleeve. Now is the perfect time to check out Prague’s amazing galleries, and we have plenty of them. As the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague much more than a true paradise for foodies and partygoers. It is also the number one destination for history and art buffs. There are classical art galleries around every corner, and it doesn’t fall short on cutting edge contemporary art venues either. On the contrary, Prague has many top-notch contemporary art galleries that are definitely worth your visit. Here are the best of them.
Classical Art Galleries
You might notice that there aren’t as many old paintings in Prague as in other European cities, and there is a good reason for it. The Bohemian Kingdom (Bohemia is a major part of today’s Czech Republic) was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for many centuries. The seat of the empire was in Vienna, so the royalty moved the paintings from Prague to Vienna to decorate their palaces there. On top of that, the Swedes took everything that was left at the end of the Thirty Years’ War. When the independent state of Czechoslovakia was established in 1918 there were plans to build a National Gallery in Prague and move all artifacts back to Prague, where they belong. But these grandiose plans were never carried out.
Today, the National Gallery is located in a couple of objects in Prague, but believe me, they all are worth your visit. For example, you can go to the Convent of St Agnes of Bohemia (the very first gothic building in Prague), or the Schwarzeberg Palace (the most beautiful Renaissance building in the city). Apart from the permanent exhibitions in the National Gallery, the Prague City Gallery and the Prague Castle Picture Gallery, check out:
The Wallenstein Riding School is located in the garden of the Early Baroque Wallenstein Palace in the charming Malá Strana. Tip: Don’t forget to check out the Wallenstein garden after your visit. The fountains and sculptures turn it into a real-life fairy tale.
You can find the Prague Castle Riding School at the entrance of the Prague Castle. This baroque building will charm you with its magnificent art collections, and offer you new and unusual views of the Prague Castle as well.
The Rudolfinum is a neo-Renaissance prestigious concert hall which is located in the heart of the city, right next to the banks of Vltava. Besides excellent classical music concerts, you can also look forward to outstanding exhibitions.
Museum Kampa is located in a former mill in a wonderful Kampa park in the heart of Malá Strana. You can see artists such as the Czech pioneer of abstract art František Kupka as well as many prominent artists from the Eastern Bloc.
The Trade Fair Palace is a fascinating place with a depth of history. It now showcases many exhibitions connected to Czech history, such as “1918–1938: FIRST CZECHOSLOVAK REPUBLIC,” or “MEDIEVAL ART IN BOHEMIA AND CENTRAL EUROPE 1200–1550.” Throughout its seven stories, the gallery also hosts a wide breadth of art, including Symbolist, Abstract and Art Deco displays; featuring both local and international names, some relatively unknown and some of great renown, such as Monet, van Gogh, and Picasso to name only a few.
Don’t forget to check out VLADIMÍR BOUDNÍK at the The Trade Fair Palace
Boudník came up with his own style called explosionism. He loved walking and looking for stains on old facades. There were many imperfect facades after WWII and during communism in Prague. They were great sources for his imagination and served as an inspiration for his drawings. Later on, he painted directly on walls and created art out of stains. These events in the centre of the city became so crowded and noisy that they even blocked the traffic. Firstly, people would shout at Boudník to do something proper (during communism everyone had to do a ‘proper job’). After a few minutes of watching Boudník in action, everyone would become interested in his art. This made Boudník happy, it was what explosionism was all about. Boudník is a figure not possible to overlook. He was Czechoslovakia’s first street artist who became popular during the1950s, a time of political turmoil. There were political trials that often ended in death penalties, so most people were trying to stay as quiet as possible. (Read more about Milada Horáková, one of the victims of political trials here). Not much of Boudník’s art survived from this period, but there is a short film about him in the Trade Fair Palace.
Contemporary Art Galleries
The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art is not to be missed by any lover of art. The gallery stages the struggle between modern life and art. In an era where people’s thoughts are more convergent, or “dangerously alike”, DOX wants to use art to deviate and disperse, “to suspend, even for a moment, our habitual ways of seeing…”. DOX opened after the revolution with the goal of bringing art back from the margins of society into people’s lives during the blossoming of capitalistic age, the main focus of which was commercial gain. This was the first exclusively contemporary art gallery in Prague.
TIP: Don’t forget to visit the AIRSHIP located on the roof of the gallery. It is a mesmerising architectural piece that gives you a different perspective of Prague.
- Head to the Dancing House for contemporary exhibitions of Czech and foreign modern art. Besides its stunning exterior, it boasts a very rich variety of exhibitions too.
- Visit MeetFactory, David Černý’s contemporary art centre. Černý is a world-renowned sculptor who creates thought provoking contemporary sculptures. Like his art, this venue aims to encourage critical thinking and dialogue between artistic genres. It is located in a former glassworks factory set near the Smichov Railway Station. It has an edgy, run-down look, but don’t let that fool you; this venue hosts some of the best contemporary exhibitions in Europe!
There is much more to learn about Czech art on our tours led by local history and art lovers, so do check them out!
March 2, 2020