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Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...





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A Czech Fairy Tale Comes to Life in Malá Strana

Published on March 10th, 2016 in Entertainment

  • Chloe enjoying Trnka’s Garden 2

  • Chloe enjoying Trnka’s Garden 2

  • Trnka’s Garden 2

  • Trnka’s Garden 2


Jiří Trnka is a Czech author, illustrator, animator, and puppeteer who is often called the “Disney of the East” a title that is a bit inaccurate given that many of his stop-motion productions, including versions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Good Soldier Švejk” are intended for adult audiences.





Trnka’s masterwork, however, is the whimsical children’s book Zahrada (The Garden); published in 1962 it ranks among the treasures of Czech children’s literature.


Trnka both wrote and illustrated the book, a tale of five boys who discover a secret gate—and misadventures—on the way to school. (Several editions of the English translation, Through the Magic Gate, now out of print, are available on Amazon)


A family-friendly exhibit, adapted from the book, has now opened in Prague. Trnkova Zahrada 2 (Trnka’s Garden 2) is an interactive installation of storybook proportions to the attic loft of Malostranská Beseda, a culture center and gallery space in Lesser Town.



Trnkova Zahrada 2 // Jiří Trnka‘s Garden 2 (trailer) from Matyas Trnka on Vimeo.


The exhibition is the brainchild of Trnka’s son Jan and his nephew Matyáš. It originally debuted in 2015 as part of the Pilsen Year of Culture; Trnka was born in Pilsen and the opening of the exhibit also commemorated his 103rd birthday.


I recently attended the newly opened Prague exhibition with my small daughter and her friend. A series of scenes based on the original book have been recreated using a combination of animation and digital rendering.


The Dwarfescope and Barkphone—an interactive musical instrument that lets you sample doggie sounds—were big hits, as were projections of elephants riding skateboards, a tricycle track featuring a mischievous tom cat, a giant shape sorter with pillow shapes, and non-stop projections of Trnka animations.


While this activity may not be for older children who aren’t familiar with the book, it was definitely a success for our smaller ones strictly for its colorful, hands-on activities.


If you are a fan of world animation, Jiří Trnka’s short films and wondrous drawings, so—visually satisfying he has a big following on Pinterest!—deserve a look, in particular “The Hand” (considered his best), “Story of the Bass Cello”, and one of my personal favorites, “The Merry Circus”.






Zahrada 2 is open now through May 15, 2016.



Malostranská Beseda

Staroměstské nám. 21
hours Daily 10:00 – 18:00
tram 22 to Malostranské náměstí
admission Adults 120 CZK; kids 3-15 70 CZK; family pass 300 CZK