Franz Kafka Museum Prague Czech Republic


kafka museum5

I’ve read most of Franz Kafka’s novels and short stories, but after visiting the Kafka Museum in Prague discovered I only had a cursory understanding of his life and work. This museum presents unique, in-depth information, making you want to learn more about Kafka.

Kafka Museum – kafkamuseum.cz
Prague and Kafka’s Writing

Kafka was a great early 20th century Jewish author. The “symbiosis” between Kafka’s life and Prague is well-known. He wasn’t Czech and wrote in German, but he was born in Prague in 1883 and lived there most of his short life. In 1924 at the age of 41, Kafka died from tuberculosis in a Vienna sanatorium. He’s buried in Prague’s New Jewish Cemetery.

St. Nicholas Church Malá Strana Prague
Interactive Exhibition

In 1999, the Kafka exhibition opened in Barcelona. It transferred to the Jewish Museum in New York City from 2002–2003. In 2005, The City of K. Franz Kafka and Prague opened on the Malá Strana bank of the Vltava River in a prominently visible museum.

The interactive exhibition has two sections – Existential Space and Imaginary Topography – where dedicated displays profile Kafka’s works. Next you pass a series of handwritten letters, photographs, and diaries chronologically detailing Kafka’s life, including his career as an insurance attorney. You pass through a dimly lit labyrinth where music, spot lighting, mirrors, and eerie videos set a fun “Kafkaesque” mood.

Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka

Many think that “once you leave the Kafka Museum you may experience some of the tricks the city of Prague plays on the mind”. I’ve been in Prague for three weeks now and understand that – two weeks ago, not sure I would….

Franz Kafka Museum interior Prague – Prague-Stay.com
Existential Space Section

“In this first stage of immersion into Kafka’s world, we look at how Prague affects and shapes his life. Prague acts on Kafka with its metamorphosing power, confining him to an existential space he only enters by gazing at the surface of things.”

_____________

“Kafka envisioned Prague as a dear little mother with claws.”

_____________

kafka museum4

“Prague forces Kafka into a spatial constriction, steadily dosing out its secrets. Prague contributes myth, magic, and a magnificent backdrop but abhors clarity.”

Kafka’s Schoolhouse Prague Palace Kinsky – Wikimedia Commons

The museum’s design shows Prague from Franz Kafka’s unique point of view. Guided by Kafka, the exhibits condense principal conflicts in his life. Visitors descend into the depths of “his city,” adapting to “his sensorial range and cognitive register”. They become involved in the “gradual distortion of space-time agreeing to a Kafka experience that allows everything, except indifference”.

Kafka Museum

Imaginary Topography Section

“The way Kafka creates the layers of his city is the most enigmatic operations of modern literature. With few exceptions, Kafka doesn’t name the places described in his novels and short stories. Instead, Prague steps back and is no longer recognizable by its monuments, buildings, and bridges. They have become something else.”

Kafka Illustration
Kafka Illustration

People want to name real Prague places in Kafka’s fiction. The Gothic cathedral in The Trial is St. Vitus. The path taken by the protagonist Joseph K. as he runs all over Prague leads him from Old Town over Charles Bridge to Malá Strana. It’s said that in The Judgment, the wharf, river, and opposite bank of the Vltava appear as they would be seen from Nicholas Street, where Kafka’s family lived.

House of Kafka’s Adolescence

I recommend visiting the Kafka Museum, but be prepared for a heady experience marked by Kafka’s trademarks – “surreal distortion and a sense of impending danger”. In true Kafkaesque form, this museum takes you into another space – Kafka’s world!

2 Comments

  1. ms6282

    If this museum has sparked an interest in Kafka, I’d recommend the TV film “The Insurance Man” by Alan Bennet that was shown on the BBC quite a number of years ago (it features a young Daniel Day Lewis as Kafka). I managed to get hold of a copy DVD after our own recent visit to Prague reminded me of it.

    Like

Leave a Reply to suemtravels Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.