The National Gallery's collection, "Art of 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries," remains the keystone of the city's visual-arts scene that it has been since its opening in 1995. Touring the vast spaces of this 1920s functionalist exposition hall filled to the brim with quirky, stimulating, comprehensive modern and contemporary local art is the best way to see how Czechs surfed the forefront of the avant-garde wave until the cultural freeze following World War II. Also on display
are works by Western European—mostly French—artists from Delacroix to the present—with paintings by Gauguin, Picasso, and Braque an unexpected bonus. Especially haunting are Jakub Schikanaeder's moody canvases and Arnost Hofbauer's hushed pilgrimage tableau (which eerily anticipates Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth). But painting is only the beginning—also occupying the many levels of the museum are collage, cubist sculpture, vintage gramophones, futuristic architectural models, art deco furnishings, and an exhaustive gathering of work from this new century, some of which is just as engrossing as the older stuff. Also, watch the papers and posters for information on traveling shows and temporary exhibits.