Sunday, February 25, 2018

Adventures in public relations

The other day Kate was looking at an online map of Prague and noticed something called the KGB Museum.

“That looks interesting.”

So I looked it up.

We haven’t gone, so I can’t speak from experience, but looking over the positive and negative reviews on TripAdvisor, it seems like the museum is two rooms filled with the idiosyncratic collection of one particular Russian man.

It’s quite clear that you are only allowed in for a guided tour, and that the owner/operator does not provide tours for just one person.

Judging again by uncontested descriptions, it seems as if the exhibits—photos, guns, knives, cameras—are not labeled, and so the only information about what you’re looking at comes from the guide’s narration, in imperfect English, assisted by a laser pointer.

Even if you can’t make it to Prague, the museum can still be educational, through the TripAdvisor reviews I mentioned above.

Most of the reviews are positive, but some visitors did leave 1-star write-ups, and the value comes not so much from the negative reviews themselves, as from the responses left by the owner.

I could put together a long post by just pasting in whole reviews with the accompanying responses, but to keep on the right side of the Fair Use doctrine, I’ll just give you some excerpts with links to the material in question.

One review is titled “Too expensive,” and the customer says, “It was really a nice but modest collection of Russian spy and military memorabilia with a wild-eyes storyteller.”

The respondent bills himself as, “MuseumKGBinPrague, Public Relations Manager at KGB Museum”, and says, “Yes, exactly. And see the unfortunate dead donkey on the next street is free. A true connoisseur of the History ...”

Another reviewer says, “I didn't learn anything about the KGB and was stuck in this small crowed display area for over an hour. Very disappointing. Also, it didn't smelled good. Not bad, but like badly scented candles, which gave me a headache.”

This time, the response comes from “MuseumKGBinPrague, Manager at KGB Museum,” and says in part,
Cindy, some people aren't afraid to show their stupidity. It is very good. All your life you never studied nothing, and now you want to acquire a basic knowledge of per hour. Sorry, your train had already left. ... If you're not from spoiling the air, I wouldn't Kindle scented candles. And a headache from large quantities of beer. I don't drink alcohol and I don't smoke and I assure you that this is a very nice scent. But, tired of answering stupid review. Thank you.
There are some positive reviews. One includes the opinion that, “The tour guide is crazy. Like full blown crazy. But his craziness just adds to the experience. He's superbly knowledge about his subject matter and incredibly passionate, you'd most definitely want him on your side if things kicked off. Sometimes his English slides into Russian and a little hard to follow but he's extremely animated so you know exactly what he's saying!

At times it seems like the owner is willing to cop to some weaknesses with English, but elsewhere he has a novel explanation of the communication problems.

The reviewer in this instance didn’t actually go in, because “Whilst we were waiting a group of three came running out, obviously scared and upset. They informed us that the museum owner had been aggressive towards them and that the tour was nothing more than a mad man's ramblings about weaponry and his love of Stalin, nothing more than an autocratic genocidal tyrant, in my eyes.”

The reviewer further mentions that, “We were shocked that [the owner] began to insult and belittle the customers who had decided to cut their tour short. He was adamant that they didn't enjoy the tour because of their 'poor english', despite the fact that their English was more understandable than his own.”

The response to this one is again from the “PR Manager” at the museum and begins, “I figured out who you are and I will talk to you patiently and tenderly, although you and I-we are very different people. I grew up reading Dostoevsky and Chekhov, you grew up reading Spider-man and the Lord of the rings.”

But the real pearl in this response relates to linguistics: “Now about my English. I speak English, using elements of ancient Yorkshire dialect and the language spoken to King Arthur, who, as everyone knows, was a scyth (skif is the ancient name of Russians).

Truly outstanding work.

To end on a positive note, there’s one titled “Absolutely mental,” which reads in its entirety, “Most fun I've had at a museum. The guy really knows his stuff and is incredibly passionate about what he does. He is also completely insane. 10/10 would visit again.”

Well, it’s not currently high on our list, but to each their own.


  1. You have to go. Really. And then write about it.

    1. Can I get you to sponsor us the 350 Kc entry fee? :)

  2. Maybe? That's like $17? I'll send you $25 and you can get lunch after. Provided you survive, of course.