Flushed with success, a rare museum in Prague is moving to the Old Town to become more accessible to tourists.
The idea for the Museum of Historical Chamber Pots and Toilets was born back in 2003 during renovation work on an 13th century building on the outskirts of Prague. The discovery of an old stone toilet kicked off a rather unusual hobby.
“The museum was created by accident. We bought a medieval fortress near Prague and there were Gothic and Baroque toilets inside. And that’s how we became interested in toilets and how they looked throughout history, and the fact that people were removing excrement from their homes to prevent epidemics,” explains Renata Sedlackova, the owner of the museum.
“It all started as a bit of fun,” she says. “But then the collection started growing: we would buy new pieces at auctions, receive them from friends, we would give them to each other as presents. For example, my husband received them as birthday presents, Christmas presents, Saint Valentine’s Day presents. It would make him happy to have a new chamber pot.”
Among some of the 2,000 pieces on display is a chamber pot commissioned for Napoleon Bonaparte. Another was acquired for the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House in 1892 and is thought to have served up to seventeen American presidents.
The oldest piece dates from the 15th century.
One room in the museum is entirely dedicated to receptacles for urine and decorative bed pans. In the 17th and 18th century, chamber pots became more sophisticated with clay being replaced by porcelain and even silver.
The new Museum of Historical Chamber Pots and Toilets opens in Prague’s Old Town in December.
[An earlier version of this story incorrectly dated the commissioning of Napoleon’s chamber pot]