On the park ring in Plzen you pass a fountain, which stands directly in front of an impressive neo-Renaissance building. This building is the main building of the West Bohemian Museum in Plzen.
The Museum of West Bohemia is an association of various museums in Plzen, which deals with very different topics. These include, for example, the Museum of Religious Art of the Plzen Diocese, the Puppets Museum and the Ethnological Museum of the city.
In 1898, the construction of the beautiful building of the main house was completed. I really like the facade, but I was even more impressed by the interior of the building.
A large wide staircase leads to the upper floor, the higher you get, the narrower the staircase becomes. Daylight shines in through large windows and I was actually just waiting for visitors in tailcoats and hoop skirts to come towards me. But not only these visitors were missing, I was all alone in the whole museum. Too bad, even if only a few visitors were in Plzen, the few really missed something.
In the main building of the Museum of West Bohemia you can visit four permanent exhibitions:
- Plzen Municipal Armory (the largest historical armory in the Czech Republic)
- Glimpses into the past of the Plzen Region – Archaeology
- Glimpses into the past of the Plzen Region – History
- Arts and crafts / Applied arts
During my visit, renovations were taking place in one part of the building, but it was possible to visit three exhibition areas.
There are some accompanying texts in German and English in the exhibition areas. The staff that was there during my visit, unfortunately, could only speak Czech, which made inquiries somewhat difficult. But they were all friendly throughout and made an effort to show everything to the only female visitor.
In addition to the four permanent exhibitions, temporary exhibitions will also be offered and there will be an extensive library in the building.
Plzen Municipal Armory
My first way led me to the basement of the Museum of West Bohemia. Here is the armory of the city of Plzen. A large gate was opened for me and behind it opened the largest preserved historical armory in the Czech Republic.
I am a very peace-loving person and not such a fan of weapons exhibitions, but what I could see here really impressed me.
The armory has existed since 1363, having been founded by the then Bohemian king and Roman emperor Karl IV. On large wooden stands lie firearms from the end of the 14th century to the middle of the 17th century. For me as a layman they look very similar, but if you look closer, you can already discover differences. Very rare pieces, like the collection of Gothic rifles – harquebuses with firing locks – and a set of muskets from the time of the Thirty Years War can also be seen. Where there are weapons, armor naturally belongs. On shelves, for example, are helmets of various sizes and shapes.
What I cannot assign to the theme of the armory are the stone portals that can be seen at the passages to the individual rooms. They come from demolished houses of different temporal epochs from Plzen. But maybe they just fit best visually and architecturally into these rooms.
The museum is particularly proud of a piece of the original city wall in the Museum of West Bohemia
Insights into the past of the Plzen Region – Archaeology
Next, I visited the permanent exhibition on the second floor, which deals with archaeology in the Plzen region.
In order to stay in the right order in terms of time, you should not only pay attention to the labels, but also to the color design. In addition, I took the German info booklet with me. Here “only” the exhibits are listed and chronologically classified, it would have been nicer if I would receive still further information for example about the place of discovery or the history.
In terms of content, the exhibition begins in prehistoric times. With the help of panels and exhibits, you move forward in time towards the present. There are grave equipment, ceramics, stone tools, axes … . You can get an insight into the tumulus culture of the region, look at figures characteristic clothing and jewelry of a particular era and see unique objects, such as a bronze shield from Plzeň-Jíkalka.
All in all, a really interesting journey through time that also has just the right spatial and thematic dimensions for children. The fact that you don’t walk past the hundred-thousandth shard of clay, but that a different selection of exhibits is presented, makes the visit really varied, exciting and entertaining. Those who wish can even get active themselves. At a replica of a vertical loom, you can try out how fabrics were created and learn about the laborious grinding of grain at a grindstone.
Arts and crafts / Applied arts
On the third floor is the exhibition on the theme of arts and crafts / applied arts.
Even those who have little interest in this topic should not miss a visit. The rooms are worth seeing. Between the rooms there is a connecting corridor with glazed domes and the stucco decorations in the rooms are really beautiful. I almost forgot to pay attention to the exhibits in some of the rooms.
There is a wide selection of glass and ceramics, foreign and Czech porcelain, iron, pewter and precious metalwork, clocks, etc. to discover. I was amazed at the variety of locks and keys, door knockers and hinges on display. A great craftsmanship!
There is beautiful, but also functional porcelain and glass to see. While there, I remembered our visit to the Moser Glass Museum in Karlovy Vary and looked for pieces from the collection.
This exhibition “Glimpses into the past of the Plzen Region – History” was unfortunately under reconstruction and it was not possible to look into the rooms.
All in all, the visit to the West Bohemian Museum was really impressive. I sat for a while afterwards on a bench next to the fountain in front of the building and processed the many wonderful impressions.
Západočeské muzeum v Plzni
Kopeckého sady 2
301 00 Plzeň
Tuesday-Sunday: 10-18 h
You have to pay extra to visit each permanent exhibition. However, there is a possibility to purchase a museum pass with which you can also visit the other museums that belong to the Museum of West Bohemia.
Adult per exhibition: 60,- CZK
Discounts are offered.
Disclosure: The visit was part of a research trip to Pilsen.