The challenge: Аdmire famous sights on a pinpoint scale
The Eiffel Tower is on the ‘must-see’ list for almost all travelers. But if you can’t make it to Paris to see the real thing, why not check out the 3.2 mm (0.123 inch) high Eiffel Tower replica made of cherry stone in Prague’s Museum of Miniatures?
What it’s all about
The museum includes 29 exhibits, most of them created by Anatoly Konenko. They are painted on or carved into the smallest objects possible – the eye of a needle, a strand of hair or a mosquito’s wing – and can be seen only with magnifying glasses or microscopes, which of course the museum provides.
The story of the flea with the golden shoes
One of the museum’s most interesting exhibits is a flea that, thanks to Konenko’s craftsmanship, is now equipped with horseshoes. Surprisingly, shoeing fleas has actually been a common achievement among micro miniaturists, especially those from the former Soviet bloc. Тhe reason for this fascination is as intriguing as the works themselves.
It all started with a novel written by Russian author Nikolai Leskov, in which a Russian tsar visits England and receives as a gift a tiny steel flea that can dance. Upon the tsar’s return to Russia he searches for a way to outdo the English, a problem solved by a left-handed craftsman who presents a flea with horseshoes, on which the craftsman’s own name is inscribed. Although the novel was written in 1881, around 100 years before micro-miniature art gained popularity as a genre, the tale of the flea has become so embedded in the Russian psyche that it remains relevant today.
Other exhibits to see at the museum
One of the most curious works in the museum is the world’s smallest book, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. The book in question is ‘The Chameleon’ by Russian writer Anton Chekhov, measuring just 0.9 x 0.9 mm (0.04 x 0.04 inches) and consisting of 30 pages and three illustrations. The museum contains another piece of art dedicated to Chekhov: his portrait painted on half a poppy seed.
You can also grab a microscope and examine miniature copies of masterpieces by legends like Salvador Dali and Leonardo da Vinci, hand-painted on tiny fragments of mammoth bone.
Other artworks include a caravan of camels in an eye of a needle, the Lord’s Prayer on human hairs and a sailboat on a mosquito’s wing.
The museum is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm. Its address is Strahovské Nádvoří 11, Prague 1 – near the Strahov Monastery. To get there from the city center, take tram 22 to Pohorelec station. Tickets cost CZK 150 for adults and CZK 100 for students and children. More information here.