Prague museum depicts country's communist past

Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:09am EST
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By Michael Kahn

PRAGUE (Reuters Life!) - Glitzy new shops, fast food restaurants and trendy bars have replaced Prague's former monochrome socialist-era landscape but a museum dedicated to the country's communist past offers glimpses of the uglier times.

The Museum of Communism, which focuses on politics, history, sport and other aspects of daily life in socialist Czechoslovakia, touts itself as the first of its kind in Prague exclusively devoted to the system that dominated the country for more than four decades following World War II.

Located just off a busy shopping street and situated next to a casino and a McDonald's, the museum takes visitors on a journey that began with the February 1948 coup which ushered in the totalitarian regime and ended with the quick-fire Velvet Revolution of 1989 that toppled communism.

"We wanted to pay respects to the people who suffered under the totalitarian regime," said Glenn Spicker, an American who co-founded the for-profit museum.

"The museum is kind of a work in progress; hopefully by next summer we can have more exhibits."

Spicker, who landed in Prague along with a wave of other young Americans shortly after 1989, compared the museum experience to a three act play involving the dream, reality and nightmare of communism.

He and his partner have collected historical documents, posters and other memorabilia of the communist propaganda machine to provide snapshots of life under the socialist system.

One exhibit, for example, recreates a typical communist-era shop with nothing in the counter and only stacks of two different kinds of canned food available on the shelves.   Continued...