History of National technical museum
The National Technical Museum in Prague was founded in 1908. Over a period of more than a hundred years, extensive collections have been established here that document the development of many technical fields, natural and exact sciences and industry in the territory of today's Czech Republic.
The forerunners of the National Technical Museum in Prague (hereinafter NTM) include the collecting activities of the State Engineering School (founded in 1717 in Prague), the subsequent activities of the Polytechnic Institute (founded in 1806) and finally the opening of the Czech Industrial Museum, founded by Vojtěch Náprstek in 1862. Part of its collections were even handed over to the present-day NTM later in the 20th century. Its official founding took place at a ceremonial inaugural meeting on 5 July 1908 (see below). It was named the Technical Museum of the Czech Kingdom with a set program to document the primary trends in the technical and industrial development of the Czech lands in relation to foreign countries with the help of collected manufactured goods, machinery, equipment and means of transport.
The NTM was born out of an initiative of the technical intelligentsia, in particular professors from the Czech Technical University in Prague. It was organized on the principle of association and functioned under the official name of the Association of the Technical Museum of the Czech Kingdom, whose members were not only individuals, but also collectively companies, industrial plants, banks and professional corporations, such as sugar mills. The association was divided into professional groups according to individual industrial fields and sectors, e.g. mining, metallurgy, construction, transport, the sugar industry, textile production, glassworks and others.
On 28 September 1910, the Technical Museum opened its first exhibitions to the public in the Schwarzenberg Palace in Hradčany. After the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, it took on a new name – the Czechoslovak Technical Museum. Thanks to public collections, donations and financial assistance from the state, funds were collected for the construction of a new museum building on the Letná plain. Milan Babuška's design won the architectural competition. The construction was started in 1938 and completed in 1941 already during the period of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and immediately occupied by the occupation administration for the Ministry of Post. At the same time, the collections of the Technical Museum, renamed the Czech Technical Museum in 1939, had to leave the Schwarzenberg Palace and move to temporary premises at Invalidovna in Karlín, where small exhibitions were first created, but in 1944 the museum's activities were completely suppressed.
After the war in 1945, it was difficult to re-acquire the building in Letná for museum purposes. This was partially achieved only in 1948, when the first permanent and temporary exhibitions – on cycling, film, and radio broadcasting- were opened here. However, at least one third of the building continued to be used by other institutions until 1990.
In 1951, the museum was nationalized and the institute was given the current name of the National Technical Museum. The activity of the association was curtailed and in 1959 it ended completely. The NTM became a museum and scientific workplace managed and financed by the state. The number of employees increased from 20 to 90, later up to 130, and new exhibitions were opened in the building in Letná - transport, mining, metallurgy, astronomy, geodesy, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, the measurement of time, photographic and film technology. NTM presented itself through a number of exhibitions at home and abroad, as well as through its own research and publishing activities. The scope and value of its collections make the museum one of the leading institutions of its kind in Europe.
Under democratic conditions in 1990, the government decided to make the entire building in Letná available for museum purposes. This allowed for an additional telecommunications exhibition and new halls for temporary exhibitions to be created. In 2002, part of the collections and archives stored in the depositories in Invalidovna in Karlín were flooded. The consequences of this disaster were dealt with over the next decade, sadly some of the collections were destroyed. As part of repairing the damage, the construction of new modern depositories in Čelákovice finally began, and in 2003 the reconstruction of the main museum building in Letná was started. Its main goal was to return the building to the form originally designed by the architect Milan Babuška. In 2011, the second stage of reconstruction work was completed, and in February the first five exhibitions - transportation, architecture and construction, astronomy, printing and photographic technology - were ceremonially reopened. In October 2013, the National Technical Museum was finally completed and fully furnished after 75 years. The museum presents the history of technical ingenuity in 14 permanent exhibitions.