As part of a holiday with my wife recently I had the opportunity to visit Prague in the Czech Republic which, as well as being a beautiful and vibrant city, is also home to dozens of small niche museums, including the Museum of Bricks and LEGO shop, billed as 'the largest private collection of LEGO models in the world'.
From what I can gather it started out as a display of the founder's personal collection but is now one of five LEGO museums in the country.
I wasn't able to photograph the front of the building myself because it's currently covered in scaffolding so the image at the top of the article is from this website. It's a small, narrow, shop front which was probably a bank at some point in its life because part of the museum is housed in what looks to be a vault.
The ground floor houses the shop, more on which later, while the bulk of the museum is in the basement. Descending the stairs into the first gallery gives a good impression of what's in-store.
Basically, it's a display of many (but not all) regular LEGO sets produced from the 1980s onwards. It's all housed in glass cabinets and organised thematically, although some is a bit haphazard.
A few of the models have small cards showing the set number, name, number of pieces and year of release in front, but not many, and this is one area that could be improved. Some displays are interactive, with buttons for operating trains or lights, but not many.
The large cabinet in the centre of this room houses a large City/Town diorama.
The sets are not displayed with their packaging, although some of the larger boxes have been placed on the tops of the cabinets.
Space sets, Power Miners, some Star Wars sets...
Part of the large Star Wars diorama...
There is a small selection of 1960s and 1970s sets, but it's nowhere as comprehensive as the the 1980s onwards.
There's also three cabinets with boxes and town plans from the 1950s and 1960s:
As well as regular LEGO sets there are a few MOCs of Prague landmarks on display, including the Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, Powder Tower and National Museum.
This mole is the star of a Czech kids cartoon and could be seen everywhere in the city:
As you might expect, you exit through the gift shop, and what a shop it is! As well as the current retail assortment of sets, one can also purchase many retired D2C sets and also sets that you won't find in any other shop, such as SDCC exclusives, employee Christmas gifts, LEGO factory models and so on.
But... for everything other than the current retail assortment the prices are astronomical. For example, the SDCC Star Wars boxes in the image below cost 14990 Kr, which is $670 / £515 !! It's all been priced not to sell so it remains in the shop. The website makes a big deal of the rare stuff that's available.
It's hard to see who's going to buy this sort of stuff from here, particularly as the Czech Republic is not the richest country in Europe.
Here are a few train sets that were for sale. The 2016 employee Christmas gift set 50 Years on Track will set you back $380 / £300.
The shop also has a small pick-a-brick selection of regular bricks and also a huge tub of used parts that could be purchased by weight. Minifigs are sold separately, too.
Despite the prices, it's a great place to window shop, and somewhere to return to when you win the lottery!
Here's the brochure that will aid you should you wish to visit yourself. There's more information, including admission prices, on the museum's website.
A museum displaying thousands of LEGO sets sounds exciting and interesting, doesn't it!
However, to be honest, I found it a bit boring. Partly I think that was because I'm familiar with all of them (as you'd expect me to be running Brickset), and indeed own many myself.
The main reason, though, was that I felt the presentation was a bit lacklustre. Cabinet after crowded cabinet of assembled LEGO sets, most without any information about them, and many covered with dust. It was pretty much like going round a friend's house and seeing their collection in Ikea cabinets. Admittedly it's an impressive collection but it's nothing that anyone with the requisite amount of money and space couldn't own.
I would have preferred to have seen fewer sets, all properly labelled up and displayed with their packaging, which would transform the displays from a seemingly random set of models on a shelf much like you probably have at home already, into something far more impressive, informative and relatable.
I do however think it's more appealing to casual fans, and in fact my wife very much enjoyed seeing sets she and her brothers had as kids on display.
It's not worth making a special trip to Prague for for but if you find yourself in the city it's definitely worth a visit, once you've watched the Astronomical clock do its thing a few times, walked the Charles Bridge, and had your fill of Pilsner Urquell and Trdelníks...