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Museums in Central Europe

Let’s talk empires (Roman, Holy Roman, Austro-Hungarian, for instance), a huge mass of land, multiple cultures, a passion for crystal and ornamentation, and what do we get? Fabulous museums throughout Central Europe. Don’t miss them!

Museums in Poland have modernized since the first one was established 200 years ago; today’s museums have interactive facilities, which enlighten us about our world; they intrigue and can even provoke laughter. In the remarkable Museum of the Warsaw Rising the horror of those days is amplified by the sounds of the planes dropping bombs and the explosion of shells. The visitor to the museum can ‘call’ an insurgent, who will tell them their story; he pushes himself through the sewers; he tears off the pages of a calendar documenting the days of the Rising. In the Museum of Papermaking in Duszniki-Zdroj anyone can drain off the paper mass on a riddle then put it into the press to obtain his own sheet of paper-mache.

Austria today offers some of the world's most important and stunning collections. To tour the countless museums and galleries is to pass from Old Masters to contemporary art. You could spend months at the Vienna Fine Arts museum, but when you need a break for some whimsy, no problem
Haus der Musik is an experimental interactive music museum in Vienna that offers a lively introduction to the history of Austria’s great composers. Salzburg isn’t just about the traditional but has a lively art and culture scene with a plethora of galleries and event venues embracing the avant-garde, the unconventional and the future-oriented. A crazy village and a museum for inventions that nobody needs....that would be the Nonseum, full of exhibits invented by eccentrics – from a heated garden gnome to finger nail guillotines and high heel protectors.

Germany abounds with museums so you just have to prioritize your list and be prepared to change your mind as you discover new exhibits along the way. Situated in the heart of the city, the famous Berlin Museum Island is one of the most important museum complexes in the world. The complex comprises five museums of international prominence, archaeological collections and 19th century art. This collection of museums was designated a site of UNESCO World Heritage in 1999. The famous Green Vault in Dresden – founded in around 1560 by Elector Augustus – is Europe's richest, most magnificent treasure chamber museum. Since it reopened in 2006, visitors to the Royal Palace can once again admire the collected treasures of the Electors and Kings of Saxony in an even more splendid setting.

The Czech Republic boasts an extraordinary 2,000-plus preserved castles and chateaux (more per square mile than any other country in the world). How did people live in the past? They weren’t all in castles, so visit an outdoor museum, a reconstructed and fully furnished village where you can see the architecture and lifestyle typical of its respective region. Several times a year these villages revive during various festivals featuring folk costumes, folk music and dance as well as tempting delicacies of Czech cuisine. In Prague visit the exhibits or attend a concert at the National Museum in Wenceslas Square, and be sure to see the famous flowing Art Nouveau works of Mucha. Too curvy> Visit the House of the Black Madonna and submerge yourself in cubist art and architecture.

Museums in Hungary are concentrated in Budapest, which is packed with museums, galleries, and temporary exhibitions in the most unlikely of settings, particularly in summer - so keep your eyes peeled. The Hungarian National Gallery is enormous and an absolute must, for its collection and its view of the city. Founded on the personal collection of philanthropist Count Ferenc Széchenyi, the National Museum has been home to a stunning array of Hungarian art since 1802. The artwork and artifacts on the inside are equally impressive and include St Stephen's coronation cloak and huge frescoes and wall friezes. See statuary from the Communist era at Memento Park or the foundation of op-art at the Vasarely Museum. Visit the Ethnography Museum, a Baroque mansion, or the former headquarters of the secret police.

Slovakia has an intriguing assortment of museums for you to enjoy. Bratislava can certainly be called the Mecca of the visual art, where the majority of artists live and work. The Slovak National Gallery collection holds more than 50,000 collection items that represent a fine survey of art and Slovakian national heritage. One of the main centers of modern art is the new Danubiana. Bibiana, the international house of children’s art collaborates bi-on international events aimed at presenting book illustrations and animated films for children. Regional galleries presenting local artists are in every major town. Among those worth visiting is for example Múzeum moderného umenia Andy Warhola (the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art) in Medzilaborce, the birthplace of the parents of the “king of pop-art”.

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