- Mika Vepsalainen
Kafka Museum - The Kafkaesque in a Tiny Museum Next to the Charles Bridge in Prague
Updated: Mar 18
Come with us to check the weird world of one of the most influential authors of the 20th century at the Kafka Museum in Prague
Kafka was one of the most important writers of the early 20th century with his influence felt across a large variety of writers al over the world. Although his works were incomplete they were published posthumously despite his wish that they be destroyed,
Born in a German speaking family in Prague, in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1883, Franz Kafka became an iconic interpreter of themes of alienation, existential anxiety, guilt and absurdity. He even gave a word to us, "kafkaesque" to describe the kind of nightmarish situations like some of the heros of his books. A lawyer by education, he worked in insurance companies while writing in his spare time. He also wrote hundreds of letters. He died in in a village a step north of Vienna in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis.
In the museum, you can see many first editions, letters, diary pages, photographs and drawings. In the first part of the exhibition you will see his "Existential Space", in the second, "Imaginary Topography” that you will find in his texts, should you ever read one of his books.
What is today the museum, was originally a temporary exhibition in Barcelona in 1999 - 2001 and New York 2002 - 2003, after which it was permanently placed in Prague in 2005. The temporary nature may explain why an odd visitor may not find it easy to see why it is where it is and why it looks like it does, but the museum is very informative for the connoisseur of history of literature.
We found the museum also a tad too dark and not too much of fun, with little connection to the unrelated architecture of the building. Perhaps the museum could also be seen in a better light if the staff were a tiny wee bit more friendly - a smile perhaps? - and even spoke the basic courtesies in anything else but Czech.
There is a large museum shop in the building the other side of the square selling an impressive variety of Kafka’s books and books about Kafka in different languages. Next to the museum shop, there is a café and a restaurant in the basement below the museum, if you stroll down towards the Vltava rive to admire a great view of the Charles Bridge from the early 15th century. There are also a pedal car museum at the square by the Vltava that you might wish to check before you leave.
There is a loo in the first floor of the museum building but as there is no lift, this museum is not for the handicapped or people with kids in a pram.
In front of the museum, there is a sculpture, “Piss”, the fountain’s basin in the shape of the Czech Republic. In the fountain, facing each other, two bronze men stand naked with big willies peeing. Visitors can command the men to write their SMS messages into the water, they say.
Hergetova Cihelna, Cihelná 2b, 118 00 Prague 1 – Lesser Town