On the west bank of the Vltava river, a stone’s throw away from the Charles Bridge, sits a quaint square. On the far side of the square are a pair of double doors which lead into one of the most curious, dark, and transportive museums in eastern Europe.
The dark, immersive gallery of the Franz Kafka Museum exhibits the author’s personal artifacts next to eerie representations of his ideas. The museum plays between the lines of fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, to illustrate how Kafka was affected by Prague, and in turn how the city was shaped by his writing about it. The schools, apartments, offices, and streets Kafka frequented appeared in his stories as allegories for various kinds of suffering.
Divided into two parts, “Existential Space” and “Imaginary Topography,” the museum draws a rope taut through the life of Kafka. Through a cornucopia of letters, journal entries, photographs, eerie soundscapes, and 3D installations, it weaves a tapestry of intellectual, artistic, experiential, and nightmarish displays. Various mechanical statues illustrate the writer’s strange, sometimes absurd ideas, such as David Černý’s pissing fountain in the museum courtyard. The exhibit mimics the surreal effects of Kafka’s writing, haunting the visitor long after the experience is over.