The National Film Museum opened in Prague in mid-January. In a city that has brought us some giants of film-making, most notably the recently departed Milos Forman, it is fitting that Prague now has a brand-new National Film Museum right in the city centre.
Celebrating all things cinematic, the new museum is an initiative of students from the prestigious Charles University, also based in Prague. They earned the backing of important Czech filmmakers such as Jiri Menzel and Zdenek Sverak, but it was their concentrated crowdfunding campaign that enabled the founders to raise enough money to bring the new museum into being.
After previously working on a smaller scale, with just two temporary installations at two different venues in the city, the museum now has a permanent home. Housed in the famous Mozarteum building (once a famous music hall), the National Film Museum is a high-tech operation, with a focus on interactive installations. The aim is to offer a history of cinema but also to explore the future of filmmaking, with exhibits featuring animation, virtual reality and holograms.
As you would expect from a museum initiated by film students, there is also a strong educational component with summer schools and didactic activities. A two-day study programme for educators with speakers from the Czech Republic and abroad will take place in the summer.
The museum has plenty of hands-on activities for visitors of all ages, including the chance to build film projection apparatus. Talking on Radio Paha, one of the co-founders, Terezie Křížkovská, said: “what is quite unique about our museum is that we don’t have archival materials – we build the exhibits ourselves. We want people to touch the things, try them, and learn about film through the experience. So building things that you can control by hand and experience is very important.”