‘SMRT’ Death – Prague National Museum

Whilst visiting Prague for two days to see my piece of work in the Mini Textiles Exhibition, I couldn’t believe my luck in finding a large exhibition at the National Museum of Prague entirely about death. I had to visit!

SMRT - Death National Museum Prague

‘Smrt’ is the Czech word for death and what an amazing word, for me this really encapsulates death.

The exhibition was spread over three large spaces each specifically themed.

The life and death within the history of the earth.

This section explores an archaeological examination of the beginnings of life and death. it introduces the first evidence of burial as well as animal behaviour surrounding death, humans are the only species to bury their dead or indeed do anything with their dead. This section also explored the rituals surrounding burial including burial goods items added with a loved one that was believed to help their journey to the next life.



SMRTgraveGoods3Ossaries and storing remains

SMRT Ossary

Images of death

This section of the exhibition was focused on historical reasons for death. War, executions, disease, terminal illness, epidemics, murder, suicide.

SMRT Blade Cut in SkullThe history of medical exploration of the human body…

SMRT MedicalVery sad suicide example from the Czech Police Museum…


SMRTSuicide SMRTSuicide2

Dealing with death and funeral rituals

This last section had displays of items from funerals and dealt with how we prepare the dead for burial. It also touched on current western detachment from death. This was really interesting as I think that this is why I have a particular interest. Our ideas in the west are that we have failed if someone dies and we cannot medically intervene to save them. Medicine has advanced so quickly and we have the feeling that most things can be cured, but we do forget that dying is a natural and inevitable process and that no amount of medical care can save us in the end. The Czech Republic are  attempting to move to more hospice care for the dying and this exhibition is a way of addressing the dislocation of our association of death.

SMRTCharnellPlankA charnel Plank – used from the middle ages up to the end of world war II, they were used to display, carry and deposit the dead into the grave.

A really fascinating exhibition that was an amazing find!





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