Kunsthalle Praha: A vibrant cultural hub where visual art meets film, food, and performance

Just a year and a half after its opening, the art space has become one of the most visited art venues in Prague.

Morgan Childs

Written by Morgan Childs Published on 21.08.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 21.08.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

One afternoon this summer, a troupe of dancers sporting paper Julian Assange face marks tears into the third-floor gallery of Kunsthalle Praha. Clad in flesh-colored undergarments, they writhe and contort themselves between the works of art—the private acquisitions of Ovidiu Șandor, an art collector from Romania—sometimes brushing dangerously close to, for instance, a pair of gold-plated cheeses perched atop Ioana Nemeș’s Stove or Andra Ursuța’s crystal tower Yoga Don’t Help. 

The museumgoers, many of them caught unaware by the performance, step back, perplexed, and take it in. It’s unexpected and a bit reckless. It’s also thought-provoking and kind of fun. It’s all very Kunsthalle.

Long before Kunsthalle opened in February 2022, the chair of its board of directors, Petr Pudil, promised “to build a place where people like to go.” Pudil and his wife, Pavlína Pudil, selected Kunsthalle’s German-language name to signal that the space was to become something other than a traditional museum. Beginning in the 19th century, Kunsthalles housed temporary exhibitions of contemporary work, rather than long-standing permanent collections.

But in the 18 months since the space first opened to the public, Prague’s Kunsthalle has taken shape as something else: not just an exhibition space for visual art, but a performance venue, cinema, and lecture hall—and the home of a restaurant and a cafe with a view of Prague Castle, to boot.

There’s a design shop, of course, plus a popular Sunday brunch each week. And Kunsthalle members partake in a full program of events, including dinners with artists, guided tours, and workshops. 

Prague and its tourists have embraced the space as a cultural landmark with notable speed: Kunsthalle registered over 110,000 unique visitors in its first year, and more than 10,000 people currently hold membership. The museum has attracted significant attention in the international press, including a featured spot on the New York Times’ most recent “36 Hours in Prague.”

According to Kunsthalle director Ivana Goossen, the eclectic mix of events and attractions is part of the museum’s winning formula.

“Ever since we embarked on the road to creating Kunsthalle Praha in early 2015, our vision was to create a friendly and international space that would integrate art with other disciplines and with everyday life,” Goossen said in an interview with Expats.cz via email. “This vision has not changed, but through the work of our team it has gained depth, breadth and color.”

That multidimensional approach is reflected in the thematic programming surrounding each new exhibition of visual art. “Lost in the Moment that Follows,” the exhibition of Ovidiu Șandor’s private collection, is accompanied by a handful of performances of “Intervention Is Enough Evidence. Finally,” the site-specific performance directed by Romanian artist Alex Miritziu.

Next week, visitors can catch a showing of Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, the Romanian satire and 2021 Berlinale Golden Bear winner, screened as part of the museum’s KunstKino series. In the autumn, Kunsthalle will offer a spate of events, guided tours, and screenings to accompany its ongoing exhibition Bohemia.

The idea, Goossen says, is not to offer visitors “a cathedral for art” so much as a dynamic, approachable environment. Going forward, she said, “We will continue to look for the right balance between thematic exhibitions, solo shows, and immersive, site-specific projects.”

Perhaps not even the German Kunsthalle aptly describes the shape that Kunsthalle Praha has taken over the past year and a half: as less a museum or gallery—or lecture hall, cinema, or performance space—as the city’s newest cultural hub. But of course, Goossen says, that’s for Praguers to decide. 

“We are glad that already in the first year after our opening Kunsthalle Praha has become one of the most visited art spaces in Prague,” Goossen said. 

This article was written in cooperation with the Kunsthalle Praha. Read more about our sponsored content policy here.

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