Archive for January, 2008

2:47 pm

The Butter Museum at Máslovice

Last month, one of my students told me, in response to my usual "So, what did you do this weekend?", that she and her boyfriend had visited the Butter Museum at Máslovice.

"Wait: did you say butter?"

"Yes, the Butter Museum."

"Butter? The yellow stuff they make with milk and you spread it on your bread? Butter?"

"Yes, the Butter Museum. They have a Betlem (Nativity scene) made out of butter."

"So wait, now where is this? Máslovice? Where’s that?"

"I’ll bring you a map."

And the next class, she did indeed bring me

  • a map showing where to find the correct bus stop at the Kobylisy metro station;
  • a map of Máslovice, showing where the museum is in relation to the bus stop;
  • a bus schedule; and
  • notes about when the museum is open (Saturday and Sunday, from 10 to 12 and from 1 to 4) and how long the Betlem would be there (from the beginning of December through the end of January).

Máslovice is north of Prague, and there’s a certain logic to a Butter Museum being housed there, as the Czech word for butter is máslo. The bus ride from the Kobylisy metro station takes about 30 minutes. The countryside surrounding Prague becomes rural amazingly quickly, and the map of Máslovice was really not necessary, as there’s hardly anything there and the museum, small as it is, was hard to miss.

The "curator" is a very nice young man named David, who seemed delighted to have a native English speaker to practice his (very good) English on. He willingly showed me through the museum, explaining the exhibits, leaving my side only to collect the admission fee from other visitors and then returning to continue our conversation. There is in fact no butter connection to Máslovice: the town was named after a person named Máslovics. I asked about the Betlem: it was carved by a 24-year old actress living in Prague, but this was to be its last weekend. It was beginning to stink, David candidly observed. Only the third of the three rooms of the museum is devoted to butter, but it is full of butter making implements and paraphernalia, including butter molds, a collection of butter wrappers from around the world, and more kinds of churns than I had ever realized existed. I was particularly taken with one in the form of a child’s rocking horse. The container for the milk forms the body of the horse, so the child’s rocking can churn the butter. I thought that was particularly ingenious.

The second of the three rooms of the museum is actually dedicated to chocolate. It turns out that the person who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest number of chocolate wrappers is a Czech (though not an inhabitant of Máslovice), and it’s a rotating portion of his collection that is on display.

The first of the three rooms is just the gift shop/reception area. If you’re in the Prague area looking for gifts depicting cows, this is where you want to come.

The weekend of April 12-13, there’s to be a Butter Festival at which visitors will be able to participate in making their own butter. I’m thinking that it might be fun to go back for that.

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