Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In front of the scenes at the museum

Today I thought I'd do my civic duty and get a little culture at the museum. Big mistake. The National Museum in Prague is one giant yawn-fest, let me warn you! It's pretty much an unreformed old-school museum, full of acres of glass cabinets containing different rocks or bugs, stuffed animals and bones. Plus it's mostly all in Czech - sure, I can figure out what a purple rock called 'ametyst' might possibly be, but, for example, Czech 'granat' is not granite, but (as a myriad of souvenir shops has taught me) garnet - so who knows what some of the other rocks translated as?
They made slightly more effort to tart up the prehistoric section - bilingual labels! (luckily, since a stone axe looks pretty much like any other lump of rock to me) and a weird bit where you went into a 'cave' and were confronted with a mirror covered in 'blood', in which you could see a cardboard caveman poised to throw a rock at you - is this the end of young Gwan? I briefly pondered, before the general crappiness of the effect dawned on me.
The palentology section didn't appear to have any dinosaur bones in it, although I could be wrong as I breezed through very quickly, since by that stage, I was, as my 'little buddy' Laurie would say, beginning to hate my life. At least in the stuffed bird collection, New Zealand got a chance to shine. There were (sadly enough) three stuffed kiwis and a giant moa took pride of place in the middle - although it was unfortunately not locked in a grudge match with a giant eagle...
The saddest part was the exhibit of a pretty battered-looking Greek vase, which was deemed important enough to have a long sign in English next to it, explaining that its purchase and restoration - along with the fact that this vase was the most significant addition to the archaeological collection since 1950. Having just come from the Kunsthistorischesmuseum in Vienna, where there are literally dozens of Greek vases, most in much better nick, I found this quite a poignant statement about the museum's collections. Perhaps I should just be pleased that I went and contributed my 60 crowns to the upkeep of the place, rather than wishing I could be bludgeoned over the head with a blunt object as a cure for massive boredom.

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