Do you remember Spejbl and Hurvínek? The two marionettes, along with many other characters, were a part of my childhood. A visit to the Puppet Museum in Plzen brought back many memories.
Directly on Republic Square ( Náměstí Republiky) in a historic house is the “Puppet Museum Plzen”. In front of the door on the square I came across a sculpture with Spejbl and Hurvínek, who artfully wore a their mask, even before the visit.
Afterwards, we went to the modernly designed museum. Here historical and contemporary puppets are exhibited, on touch screens you can learn a lot about the history of puppetry and go in search of the history of Spejbl and Hurvínek.
For me, this visit was one of the highlights of our time in Plzen.
Why is there a puppet museum in Plzen?
Plzen has a long tradition of puppetry. As early as the beginning of the 19th century, traveling theaters with puppeteers came to the city. With their horse-drawn carriages they moved from place to place and performed folk plays that delighted old and young.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the first permanent puppet theater in the city was established – the Škoda Theater. In the exhibition you can see the replica of the stage.
The beginnings of Spejbl and Hurvínek
Puppetry continued to develop in the vacation settlements (Loutkové divadlo feriálních osad). An association and a puppet theater joined forces and thus provided an unforgettable experience for the children of poor families who could spend their vacations in the settlement.
The Karel Novák touring theater, it later settled in Plzen, performed there with the artists Karel Novák, Josef Skupa and Jiří Trnka. Spejbl and Hurvínek also appeared on this stage for the first time. The theater existed in the years 1913 – 1935.
Spejbl and Hurvínek are the most famous puppets of the puppeteer Josef Skupa. Father Spejbl was created in 1919/20 according to Skupa’s designs by woodcarver Karel Nosek. Son Hurvínek saw the light of the puppet stage in 1926. He was made by Gustav Nosek, the nephew of Karel Nosek. Later, other characters were added, such as Hurvínek’s girlfriend Mánička (1930), dog Žeryk (1930) and Mrs. Kateřina (1971), Mánička’s grandmother.
The puppeteer’s little plays are mainly about everyday things that the father wants to teach the son. The father is always very convinced of his knowledge and the son gets him into trouble with specific questions. In the process, a certain wit is not missed out.
Worldwide, the stories of the Prague Puppet Theater have been performed in 31 countries and a total of 21 languages.
In the Plzen Puppet Museum, the old theater where the famous puppets first appeared has been reconstructed and a small performance is automatically shown on the stage today. We were lucky that, although we were the only visitors in the museum, a “special performance” was given for us and we could admire the puppets.
But not only Spejbl and Hurvínek can be found in the puppet theater in Plzen. I was really thrilled by the historical figures, some of which have been beautifully designed.
There are also more modern figures on display, which have more functionality, but I didn’t like them quite as much.
Fun at the Puppet Museum
Not only look at puppets, but also try out the puppet play itself, that is certainly not only for children something great. There is a small stage where you can try yourself. Here you can find not only marionettes, but also hand puppets, which are sure to stimulate the imagination.
I had especially much fun in a room on the third floor. There you can find several set-up scenarios with the most diverse dolls. You can move individual dolls and doll parts with wheels and sliders. It’s quite funny, for example, when you move the mouth of a doll and “put words in its mouth” that don’t fit the scene being portrayed.
Republic Square 23,
301 00 Plzen
Tuesday – Sunday: 10-18
Adults: 60 CZK
Discounts are offered.
Disclosure: The visit to the Puppet Museum in Pilsen was part of a research trip to Pilsen.