Read, Write, Run, Roam

Seeing Red at the Museum of Communism in Prague

How do you find the Museum of Communism? Walk to McDonald’s, follow signs for a casino, and turn left. That’s not a joke.

I’m a sucker for non-traditional museums, and this one fit the bill perfectly. It’s a little pricey (almost $10 USD) but a good primer for people interested in Communist history, specifically Communist Prague. The museum is in apartment-like quarters and seems like a bizarre aunt’s collection of Wikipedia entries, garage sale items, and theater props. In a good way. Though the Communist paraphenilia is a bit jumbled, there are some treasures, like this sweet Tesla radio poster:

I found the Prague-specific displays the most interesting, especially the black market beauty section and the explanation of the black market for dollars/exchange rate for koruna. (I’d write more about that, but I have approximately two readers interested in the subject.) They even displayed a mock storefront that highlighted the lack of consumer goods. The case contained packets of what appeared to be powdered ham. I can’t even imagine how awful that tastes.

The museum has a curious lack of first-hand accounts from people living under Communist rule in Prague. Perhaps that’s because its founders, according to my guidebook, are American. However the museum does show films taken during the Velvet Revolution. While the end of Communist Prague is hailed for its non-violence, the footage reveals the brutality and bravery that preceded democracy in the Czech Republic. This footage is similar to what I saw in the museum.

After watching the sobering vignettes, I cheered myself up with a dose of capitalism: shopping for museum souvenirs and enjoying a Starbucks macchiato. I introduced my “ladies” to each other, but one was a bit tense.

I suppose I can understand why. If Marx were around today, I think he’d proclaim Starbucks the opiate of the masses instead.

Prague visitors can find the Museum of Communism at Na Příkopě 852/10. The museum’s website can be found HERE


2 responses

  1. Agnieszka

    HI RHOB,
    I’ve been reading your blog since I’m in Belgrade (May) and I must say it’s very amusing 🙂
    I though I comment your post this time. I am from Eastern Europe from Poland to be precise and I must say the Velvet Revolution was nothing comparing to the uprising we had in Poland during the communism. We even laugh at all Czechoslovakians saying their revolution made one tramway upside-down and everybody kept their hands in pockets pretending that this happened by accident. But Prague is stunning and great place! Hope you’ll enjoy your trip!

    August 10, 2011 at 9:37 am

  2. Thanks for reading, and welcome to Belgrade! You’re absolutely right–the Velvet Revolution was peaceful compared to other uprisings. I hope to make it to Poland this year! I hear Warsaw and Krakow are fantastic cities.

    August 10, 2011 at 10:08 am

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