After being closed for nearly two decades, the historic carousel in Prague’s Letná park is now set to be restored and reopened, the Czech Technical Museum, which administers the building, has announced. Its director Karel Ksandr hopes that if all goes well the carousel will reopen sometime next spring.
Unsuspecting passers-by may not at first notice the seemingly abandoned, shabby wooden building that lies in Letná park near the National Technical Museum. However, Praguers who have lived in the city for decades may look at it with nostalgia, because it houses an old wooden carousel that once offered rides for both children and adults.
Karel Ksandr, the director of the National Technical Museum which administers the building, says that the wooden structure has its own unique story.
“It was originally built in 1892 by carpenter Matěj Bílek and placed inside Royal Vinohrady which were not yet a part of the city of Prague. Two years later, in 1894, the carousel was moved into what was then the royal capital city of Prague and placed inside Letná park, where it still stands today. It is the oldest intact carousel of its kind in Europe.”
The carousel was closed in 2004 and purchased by the National Technical Museum which has since launched three unsuccessful tenders for its restoration.
Mr Ksandr says that the main problem was not that of restoring its many beautifully handcrafted wooden horses – these were already largely restored three years ago, receiving new horse skin covers and saddles. Instead, it was the relatively small size of the tender, which held large companies back from sending an offer, says the National Technical Museum director.
“Restoring the carousel is, of course, quite a complicated matter. Not only is the structure more than a hundred years old, but it is also largely made out of wood and 80 percent intact.”
However, a recent fourth attempt finally paid off. A company with a qualified restoration expert was found under the auspices of the Czech Ministry of Culture.
The cost of the work is expected to cost close to CZK 7 million, with the District of Prague 7 contributing CZK 750,000 to the project. Restoration work should be complete by the end of February and, if all goes according to plan, Mr Ksandr says that the carousel could be reopened sometime during the spring of 2022.