Museum Fotoatelier Seidel is a photography museum unlike any other that we’ve visited. This wonderful Cesky Krumlov Museum is part photography museum, part early 20th century time capsule, showing a snapshot of the history of photography, and also the history of Cesky Krumlov and Central Europe in these fascinating yet tumultuous times.
We returned to beautiful Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic nearly thirty years after my first visit, long before the Museum was established. It was a joy to revisit Cesky Krumlov Castle after all that time, but we all agreed that the Fotoatelier was up there with the best things to do in Cesky Krumlov, even worth the day trip from Prague by itself.
‘Fotoatelier’ translates as ‘photo workshop’, and the house in which the Museum stands was his home, office and workspace. A large part of one of the upper floors was used as a portraiture studio, and large areas elsewhere were used for archival storage (the contents of an entire attic would easily fit onto a 4 TB hard drive!) and equipment.
- 1 What Is So Special About The Museum Fotoatelier Seidel?
- 2 Who Was Josef Seidel?
- 3 What Sort Of Photography Was Produced At The Fotoatelier?
- 4 Is It A Photo Gallery?
- 5 What Is there To See At Museum Fotoatelier Seidel?
- 6 How Long Do You Need At Fotoateliér Seidel?
- 7 Getting There
- 8 Fotoatelier Seidel Opening Hours
- 9 Tickets
What Is So Special About The Museum Fotoatelier Seidel?
It boils down to its unique state of preservation. This long-running business was suddenly, forcibly closed in 1949, and all its trappings were put away in storage until František Seidel died in 1997.
Eventually the house was cleared and the vast treasure trove discovered. It’s a unique collection, almost entirely intact, and it’s a wondrous experience for vintage photography lovers and anyone with an interest in 20th century European history.
Who Was Josef Seidel?
Josef Seidel was a renowned and successful Czechoslovak photographer who was based in Česky Krumlov for most of his career. He trained as a photographer and assistant, learning the trade with many photographers before striking out alone, taking over an established business in Česky Krumlov in 1888. He lived and worked there until his death in 1935.
The business was then taken over by Josef’s son František, who continued to operate it until 1949 when it was closed down by Klement Gottwald’s Communist regime.
What Sort Of Photography Was Produced At The Fotoatelier?
Seidel’s two big money makers were portraiture and postcards, the latter primarily of Cesky Krumlov. The portraiture was largely of families, with some individual shots for special occasions such as birthdays. This would have taken place in the upstairs studio.
The postcards of Cesky Krumlov are fascinating, partly as much has not changed in almost a century. In one of the first rooms on the guided tour route you can also see the machinery used to reproduce these cards.
Is It A Photo Gallery?
Not as such. You see plenty of examples of photography by both Josef and František Seidel, but the Museum isn’t set out as a gallery. Instead, you get to see all the vintage old equipment they used to produce their work, and to explore their home/workplace surrounded by an astonishing collection of photographic kit.
What Is there To See At Museum Fotoatelier Seidel?
There are two aspects to the exhibition at the Museum – the photography business and the family and social history. We haven’t encountered another place like it, and rate it one of the best Cesky Krumlov things to do.
Firstly, there’s an enormous collection of photographic equipment and paraphernalia. This ranges from cumbersome bellows cameras to indexed boxes of photos going back over a century to film boxes to an Agfa price list for 1939.
Many Seidel photography customers visited the house to have their portraits shot in the light, airy upstairs studio, complete with interchangeable props and backdrops. There’s a large selection of costumes in the changing room next door, and the waiting room is intriguing, decorated Art Nouveau style to distinctly impress.
How Long Do You Need At Fotoateliér Seidel?
Cesky Krumlov State Chateau and its compulsory guided tours aside, the Museum Fotoateliér Seidel is the most absorbing of the Cesky Krumlov attractions. We opted for the self-guided audio tour, and ended up spending over 90 minutes at the Museum. We could easily have stayed longer.
The standard guided tour lasts 50 minutes.
The Museum can be found at Linecká 272, a five-minute walk across the river from Cesky Krumlov Old Town and a ten-minute stroll down the hill from Cesky Krumlov Castle.
Fotoatelier Seidel Opening Hours
0900-1200 and 1300-1700 Tuesdays to Sundays – it’s closed on Mondays.
A single adult ticket costs 120 CZK (roughly €4.80), and a child’s ticket costs 50 CZK. Students and seniors can visit for 80 CZK (€3.20).
The Foto Atelier Seidel is also included on the Cesky Krumlov Card. This Card allows admission to tfour other places to visit in Cesky Krumlov besides the Fotoatelier Seidel – the Egon Schiele Art Centrum, Cesky Krumlov Regional Museum, Cesky Krumlov Castle Museum for 400 CZK per adult. We bought a family ticket for 800 CZK which also included our son’s admission to these Cesky Krumlov attractions.