Brno Technical Museum – A Proud Scientific and Industrial Heritage

The Czech Contribution

A domestically produced Zlín Z-526 aerobatic aircraft in the museum atrium.
A domestically produced Zlín Z-526 aerobatic aircraft in the museum atrium.

The Czechs have a long and distinguished history of scientific and technical achievement and it’s only fitting that they should take some pride in that. If you’re in South Moravia, the Brno Technical Museum is a great place to see some of that heritage.

The main building of the museum is located in the Královo Pole district of Brno and quite easy to access by the city’s public transport system.

The building is dominated by a large open atrium with windows on one side to allow a lot of natural light in. Two aircraft; a Zlín Z-526 aerobatics plane and an HC-102 helicopter, are suspended from the atrium ceiling. Both aircraft are products of the Czech domestic aviation industry.

The displays at the museum are not in chronological order, but rather by category, so let’s look at the museum one floor at a time:

Ground Floor

Water wheels in action in the hydropower section of the engine displays on the ground floor.
Water wheels in action in the hydropower section of the engine displays on the ground floor.

The bulk of the space on the ground floor is given to engines. The floor of the atrium has several steam engines on display as well as displays of hydropower engines.

Many of the engines are functional and you may be treated to a guide starting one or more up if you’re at the museum at the right time.

To one side of the atrium, is a display dedicated to aircraft engines. Several engines of various types and era are exhibited in cutaway fashion to allow you to examine the inner workings of them.

To the other side of the atrium are two smaller temporary exhibit halls.

Main Floor

A vintage car from local producer, Zbrojovka Brno, on display in the automobile section.
A vintage car from local producer, Zbrojovka Brno, on display in the automobile section.

The main floor contains the entrance, coat room, souvenir shop and ticket desk.

Though the museum has no cafeteria, there are a few tables and a selection of vending machines serving drinks and snacks on the main floor.

In the way of exhibits, it has a permanent display area concerned with the automotive history of the country and features vehicles from such domestic producers as Tatra, Praga and Wikov to name a few.

The main floor also has a temporary display area that hosts rotating exhibitions on a variety of themes.

Also on the main floor is a back door which will give you access to a group of five former Czech air force jets that are preserved behind the main building. The aircraft are not fenced off, so they can be examined very closely. As such, care should be taken as there are sharp objects such as landing gear doors that you can injure yourself on if you’re not keeping an eye out for them.

It’s best to save a viewing of the outside aircraft for last as it’s not possible to re-enter the museum through the back door. Collecting your coat before you visit the aircraft will ensure that you don’t have to go back in through the front door to get them and can simply make your way to the tram stop in front of the building when you’re ready to leave.

Second Floor

A section of items related to casting in the metalurgy display.
A section of items related to casting in the metalurgy display.

Moving up from the main floor, the second floor contains exhibits on metalurgy, household technology, communications and trades. There is also a temporary exhibition hall on this floor.

The metalurgy section takes you through the history of working metal from the Bronze Age to more modern and refined smithing and casting methods.

The communications technology exhibitions cover not only the development of telephones and television, but also incorporate a quite interesting display on the development of Braille and other aids to the blind and visually impaired. Among other things, you will see machines designed for generating and printing Braille text and devices used to teach people to read and write in Braille as well as examples of how daily technology has been adapted for use by the blind.

The museum's extensive section on living aids for the blind.
The museum’s extensive section on living aids for the blind.

Also on the second floor is the “Lane of Trades” a small collection of shops representing trades such as dentistry, bookmaking, locksmiths and the grocer as they would have appeared in the 1920s and 1930s.

Also, on the second floor is a section dedicated to automated music machines, such as player pianos.

Additionally, the second floor has displays of scale aircraft models and a display of ejection seats from various jet aircraft.

Last, but not Least

A view inside the science games room on the third floor.
A view inside the science games room on the third floor.

The third floor is a bit smaller than the others and consists of two galleries. One takes the form of a hands-on science games room while the other is a large temporary display gallery.

The games room contains a variety of activities that demonstrate many aspects of physics and science in an easy to understand way. All of the displays have instruction and explanation leaflets in Czech and English.

While it does not possess the flash of a modern, computerized science centre activity room; it is still an effective and enjoyable place for kids and adults alike to play with science after a trip through the rest of the museum.

Paying a Visit

An Aero L-29 Delfin training jet on display behind the museum.
An Aero L-29 Delfin training jet on display behind the museum.

The museum is easily accessed by a public transit tram line which has a stop directly outside the museum building.

I would advise giving the main museum building at least two hours to properly take in. I would also advise you to eat before you go as the museum does not have a cafeteria, only a few vending machines.

Several of the exhibits have bilingual Czech/English notes to go with them, for those that don’t, the museum usually has some English language leaflets nearby.

Learning More 

The Brno Technical Museum is not limited to the main facility, it is in fact a large complex that is responsible for a variety of preserved technical sites and monuments throughout the South Moravia region.

If you visit Brno in the spring or summer months, you may see some vintage trams running around town or even get the chance to ride on one of them; these are part of the museum’s collection as well.

For a more detailed overview of the museum’s holdings and their locations, follow this link to the museum’s website:

http://www.technicalmuseum.cz/lang/

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