National Museum – Czech Museum of Music (České muzeum hudby)

The former Baroque Church of Mary Magdalene in the Lesser Town became the home of the Czech Museum of Music. Anyone who enters the hall is struck by the enormity of the main hall and the special magic that the transformations of time left. Over 400 historical musical instruments of extraordinary value are on display. Temporary exhibitions and regular concerts are held here.

Object description

Building history

Czech Museum of Music

History of the place
Originally, there was a settlement named Nebovidy in this area, the significance of which gradually decreased after the abolition of the river crossing in the 13th century, and also as a consequence of building the new town ramparts. The chronicler Kosmas mentions a Jewish settlement here with a synagogue in the 11th century.
After 1315, the Magdalene Sisters moved here from the Old Town, and the little church of St. Mary Magdalene belonged to their monastery (before that, it was probably a proprietary church of the early feudal court), located in place of today’s house in Harantova Street No. 1 / Karmelitská Street No. 6. The objects were later burnt down by the Hussites.
In 1604, the church and the monastery got into the ownership of the Dominicans, who rebuilt it; after the abolition of the monastery in 1787 it was sold to private owners. Its current Classicist image dates back to the 1830s when the Nostic family arranged it into a two-storied house.
In the 18th century, Kryštof and Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer were buried in this originally medieval church; after the abolition of the monastery, their remains were probably taken to the Malá Strana cemetery.

History of the buildings
When the Jesuits came to Bohemia (in 1556), the Dominicans were forced to cease their existing convent (today’s Clementinum). They first went to the St. Anna’s Monastery, and in 1604, they received the little church of St. Mary Magdalene and the adjoining buildings from the Metropolitan Chapter for rent. Before 1604 they rebuilt the church – it became a monasterial sanctuary. But the construction of the new convent and the new church began as early as in 1616, as it was stipulated in the contract with the Chapter. However, the construction took a long time due to the Thirty-years’ War and also due to lack of money. Only at the end of the 1630s an agreement was negotiated with Count Karel Michna, who pledged his heirs to build a temple for the Dominicans in his last will. In the 50s, however, the count’s descendents got into financial trouble, they only provided more money for the construction after a rather uncivilised demanding from the side of the Dominicans, and they got very close to a disaster. The construction was carried out according to a project of Francesco Caratti; the church got its roof in 1677 and the divine services started to be held here; the church tower and the cupola were repaired in the beginning of the 18th century, with participation of Kryštof Dientzenhofer. The church was finally completed and consecrated on the 30th June 1709.
When the Dominican order was abolished, the entire premises went into auction in 1783; in 1789 it became the property of the Zbraslav sugar refinery’s director, who wanted to establish a sugar plant here. In the end, he only got warehouses and offices; the frontal belfries were taken down, and the front was modified in Classicist style. The side aisles were enclosed by walls and the storeys changed.
In 1792, the former church got into the property of the Supreme Postal Office, and other modifications were carried out by Jan Palliardi
After 1849, it served the purpose of a military hospital and later on, the Prague first republic’s police force established its barracks here.
In 1854 – 4 a late-Classicist restoration took place, when the side aisles and the front were elevated and levelled into a monolithic block; later on a passage on the ground floor was broken through. From the outside, the former sacral nature of the building can only be guessed from the octahedral dome on the roof, only visible from a distance.
In the 20th century, after the abolition of the first republic’s police force, the object was assigned to the Central Archive of the Ministry of Interior, the future National Central Archive.

Current usage
Reconstruction took place in the period 11/2001 – 10/2004, during which fragments of historical frescoes were discovered under layers of paint, the stucco was restored, as well as the metal balustrades, the original stone paving, the parquettes were renewed and also the exterior of the building was restored.
There is a monumental assembly hall in the former main aisle of the church, encircled by galleries on the individual floors of the side aisles. There is a concert hall in place of the former choir.
On the 9th November 2004, Czech Museum of Music was opened here, including depositories and scientific support centre.

Opening hours

january - december

Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun: 10:00 - 18:00

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Karmelitská 4
Malá Strana
11800 Praha 1