The Military Technical Museum of Lesany (or Vojenské technické muzeum Lešany) is a remarkable museum located near Prague. It houses over 400 military vehicles, mostly tanks, but also missile systems, huge radars, personnel carriers, motorcycles, and more.
The vehicles are displayed in a number of large open hangers; each vehicle nicely labeled in English and Czech. The vehicles were built between 1890 and the present. Special exhibitions focus on the military heritage of the Skoda brand.
There are also large halls where vehicles are displayed in historic context, using dioramas with fake buildings and props. One hall houses a recreation of a tank battle, complete with light and sound effects, trenches for visitors through walk through, and even bunkers.
The real eye-catcher of the museum is a huge Russian tank which has been painted pink and used to be displayed on Prague’s Kinsky Square. “The Monument to Soviet Tank Crews” originally commemorated the liberation of Prague by the Red Army from Nazi occupation towards the end of WW2; but for many Czechs it came to symbolize the more recent Soviet military intervention during the Prague Spring uprising of 1968. Tanks similar to the one on the monument were turned against the citizens of Prague during a mostly peaceful and reform minded protest. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block nations the monument became an openly divisive icon.
In 1991 the young Czech artist and sculpter David Černý and a group of friends secretly painted the tank pink and mounted a giant middle finger on the turret as a final gesture to Soviet intervention. Soldiers quickly painted it green again and the artists were jailed, causing dissident members of parliament to paint it pink again in solidarity. The tank was then re-painted green again and pink again numerous times until 2011 when the tank was floated down the Vltava river on a pink barge, still painted pink, and with middle finger extended, to the Lesany museum, where it still greets all visitors at the entrance.
The museum is housed in former artillery barracks and entry is free of charge. For military history buffs with kids, there is a tank which has been painted green and yellow and turned into a playground, complete with a slide. The museum shop also sells all kinds of fun military items, like clothing, toys, models, and empty tank shells.
Know Before You Go
Drive to 257 41 Týnec nad Sázavou, then follow the signs.Parking is free.