Brno Family: Inspire Your Kids at the Technology Museum

There are several floors of fascinating exhibits at the Technical Museum of Brno, including many hands-on activities for kids. Photo Credit: Technické muzeum v Brně.

On a recent winter afternoon, our family split into stereotypical roles: mother and daughter had tickets to the ballet, so father and son had to find something to do. We went to Brno Museum of Technology.

After hearing about all of the fun we had, the girl wants to go to the museum now. The boy has since started ballet.

It’s great when gender stereotypes are proved false.

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Most people think of Vida! Science Center when they think of local science-oriented activities for kids. There are definitely many reasons to visit Vida! My children spent five hours exploring it last summer, and we will definitely visit again and again as they grow older and appreciate the information to greater degrees.

Credit: Technické muzeum v Brně.

But, it is important to know that there is an older and more historically based technology museum in this city that also has many hands-on activities for children.

The Brno Technology Museum in Kralove Pole has several floors and many exhibit spaces that are packed with interesting aspects of technology.

The main hall is an impressive space that enables visitors to get perspective. Huge machines are on the ground floor. Planes and a helicopter hang from the ceiling. Clocks line the walls. Everything has a purpose and an explanation.

An exhibits space has a history of cars that were produced locally during the heyday of the first republic. Another room has motorcycles and shows the influence that Brno and its annual race have had. You can sit — or place your kid — on one of the motorcycles and, with an array of fans, recreate the experience of speeding down a road.

Some parts of the museum are not necessarily as interesting for kids as they are for parents. Entire rooms are devoted to warfare and soldiers, including barbed wire and lookout towers. A replica of old stores and businesses show how technology enabled commerce in the past. An overview of cameras and audio machines are on display. Clocks, with their gears and mechanisms, are everywhere.

The best part for kids is the top floor. It is packed with kid-friendly activities so that they can touch and feel and hear and see science and technology. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on that floor.

Here are some tips for visiting the Technical Museum of Brno with a child:

Be ready to answer questions.

Parents are experts in the eyes of their children (that is, until the kids grow old enough to know better). In a park, it is okay to answer the “Why is the sky blue?” question with vague answers. Being in a technical museum, however, requires more detail. You might want to flip through a Physics textbook, I mean surf Wikipedia, to refresh your memory.

Credit: Technické muzeum v Brně.

To wit. Me: “Well, you see, son, this ball is being pulled away from the center because of centripetal force, er, I mean centrifugal force, er, I mean a force that acts upon the ball with an outward motion, which . . . Look at the old car over there!”

You may have an audience.

There are many friendly docents in the museum. They keep a respectful distance so as not to unnecessarily intrude, but all of them say hello as you enter the exhibit spaces. (Pro tip: turn this into practice for saying “dobrý den” to adults.)

Beware: the docents speak English! That’s good news and bad news. The good news is that they are helpful and they can explain some concepts. The bad news is that, depending on the number of people around, they can often overhear your pathetic attempts at scientific explanations.

Make sure to ask for demonstrations.

Given that the docents speak English, ask them to turn on the machines. See it all in action. The huge steam engine on the ground floor is impressive. Watching it move, with the pistons and the gears, literally, brings technology to life.

Also make sure to see the influential Kaplan Turbines working. Viktor Kaplan, who was a professor at the Brno University of Technology, made a huge contribution to the use of water for energy.

Be prepared for the “Where are the dinosaurs?” question.

This might be a personal problem. I don’t know why or how my son connected a technical museum to dinosaurs (my guess is because of a picture book from the library) but this was a constant question. Me: “We’re going to the DinoPark in Vyškov as soon as the weather is nicer, I promise!”

Have patience at the pendulum hands-on exhibit.

Sometimes the exhibit is useful, but for different-than-expected reasons. For example, sand pouring from a funnel nicely shows the design created by the oscillations of a pendulum, according to angle, speed, gravity and length; however, the more interesting aspect might be sweeping the sand into a pile, scooping it up and pouring it back into the funnel.

Be prepared for subsequent at-home experimentation, by which I mean post-experimentation clean up.

Not long after our trip, the boy turned a long cardboard box that had included a tube of Christmas-gift maps for dad into a tunnel and an experiment: when an end was propped upon a chair, the toy car rolled through it easily; the juice bottle slid down at half the speed; and the plastic velociraptor toy barely moved at all, unless the angle of the tube was increased significantly.

It was a nice little project that he came up with all by himself — and which the girl enhanced when she showed up.

Soon enough, though, the velociraptor got hungry and left pieces of cardboard everywhere.

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The Technical Museum of Brno (Technické muzeum v Brně) is at Purkyňova 105 in Královo Pole. It has its own stop on the No 12 tram.

There is parking on site. According to the museum website: Visitors of the Technical Museum can park their cars on the secured parking lot.  Entry to the area is controlled by the security personnel on the premises. To obtain access, use the button on the orange gatepost on the left to call. We kindly ask visitors to observe all road signs and markings. Please note that parking spaces are limited.

A regular ticket is 130 CZK. Children aged 6-15 are 70 CZK. A family ticket for two adults and one to three children (ages 6 to 15) is 320 CZK.

Click here for the website, in English.

Credit: Technické muzeum v Brně.

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