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Franz Kafka Museum Review

The great early-20th-century Jewish author Kafka wasn't Czech and he wrote in German, but he lived in Prague nearly his entire short, anguished life, so it's fitting that he's finally gotten the shrine he deserves here. Because the museum's designers believed in channeling Kafka's darkly paranoid and paradoxical work, they created exhibits true to this spirit. And even if the results are often goofy, they get an "A" for effort. Facsimiles of manuscripts, documents, first editions, photographs, and newspaper obits are displayed in glass vitrines, which in turn are situated in "Kafkaesque" settings: huge open filing cabinets, stone gardens, piles of coal. The basement level of the museum gets even freakier, with expressionistic representations of Kafka's work itself, including a model of the horrible torture machine from the "Penal Colony" story. Not a place for young children, or even lovers on a first date, but fascinating to anyone familiar with Kafka's work. Other Kafka sites in Prague include his home on Golden Lane, his Old Town birthplace at Náměstí Franze Kafky 3, and Jaroslav Rona's trippy bronze sculpture of the writer on Dušní Street in the Old Town. (Speaking of sculptures, take a gander at the animatronic "Piss" statue in the Kafka Museum's courtyard. This rendition of a couple urinating into a fountain shaped like the Czech Republic was made by local enfant terrible sculptor David Černy, who also did the babies crawling up the Žižkov TV Tower.)

Updated: 10-15-2013

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