As soon as you arrive at the National Technical Museum (Národní technické muzeum), in the Letná district, you’ll realise that one visit is simply not enough for a detailed exploration of the whole museum.
Enter through the large vestibule, where you can buy a ticket, and head straight into the largest hall, dedicated to the history of transport. Stay for a while and enjoy the numerous aeroplanes over your head, and the magnificence of the vintage cars parked below. The bottom level of the hall is given over to vehicles and contains the oldest Czech car, from 1898, and a model of a steam car from 1815. You can also see the vehicle in which President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk travelled, and several historic racing cars.
In addition, the bottom level features a collection of wonderful steam locomotives and carriages, with original equipment, as well as motorcycles and bicycles, including magical penny farthings. Flying machines, from a gas-fired balloon to a 1911 aeroplane, hang from the ceiling. In the latter, Jan Kašpar made the first long-haul flight in the history of Czech aviation. The story of aircraft continues up to the Czech fighter pilots of 1945.
If you want a break from the big machines, visit the first floor, which houses a nostalgia-filled display called Household Technology. "My grandmother used to use this. I remember this when I was a kid. We had this at home!" You will hear these and similar phrases everywhere at this exhibition; you’re bound to find yourself saying such things too. Domestic labour-saving devices – kitchen equipment, and washing machines, irons, sewing machines and much more, are on display. You can track their development from the past to the present day.
Opposite is the Printing exhibition, where you can use technology to follow the story of printing from the days of Gutenberg and the invention of printed books, right through to the present. You’ll feel as if you’re in a real printing works, and you can try a variety of printing techniques.
The Astronomy exhibition on the second floor will transport you to a world full of stars and planets, with numerous globes, astronomical clocks, sundials, telescopes, drawing instruments and many other related inventions and devices.
Don’t forget to visit the museum top floor, which is home to an analogue television studio used by Czech Television between 1997 and 2011. But above all, this section is devoted to the Architecture, Construction and Design exhibition. Wander around a labyrinth of architectural styles, from the 19th century to the present day. Numerous models, drawings, photographs and objects walk you through the eras of Historicism, Modernism, Cubism, Functionalism, and Socialist Realism.
And then – if you’ve got energy left – head downstairs to the museum basement floors, where you’ll find an extensive Mining and Metallurgy exhibition. It illustrates how the extraction industries worked, from ancient times to the application of contemporary technology.