The Bedřich Smetana Museum is located on the banks of Vltava in the immediate vicinity of the Charles Bridge, in the building of the former Old Town waterworks, built between 1883 and 1884 according to the plans by the architect Antonín Wiehl in the place where the Old Town mills stood. Its architectural composition was further magnified by the rich sgraffito decorations after the designs by the Czech painters Josef Ženíšek and Mikoláš Aleš. Thanks to these, the building of the Bedřich Smetana Museum is among the most beautiful Neo-Renaissance buildings in Prague.
The Bedřich Smetana Museum was founded in 1926 by the Society for the Erection of a Memorial to Bedřich Smetana in Prague (since 1931, the Bedřich Smetana Society). Since its beginnings it has been gathering materials for its extensive collection fonds, documenting not only the life and work of Bedřich Smetana, but also his time and the fate of his works at home and abroad from the 19th century to the present day. Originally the collection was deposited at the Department of Musicology of Charles University, as the building in which the museum is housed was only acquired in 1935. The Bedřich Smetana Museum, with its permanent exhibition, was opened to public on 12 May 1936, in the presence of the former Czechoslovak President, Edvard Beneš.
At first, the museum was managed by the Bedřich Smetana Society, and in 1952 it became an independent institution. Between 1958 and 1975 it was under the management of the Memorial to National Literature, but in 1976 it was transferred, as part of the newly founded Czech Museum of Music, to be united with the National Museum. The original exhibition was replaced by a new installation in 1964. The current exhibition on the life and work of Bedřich Smetana opened in 1998. In 1950, the Bedřich Smetana Museum took over the administration of the lodge in Jabkenice, where as early as in 1937 it helped to erect the Bedřich Smetana Memorial. New exhibitions followed in 1950, 1964 and 2003.
Besides its collecting activities, the Bedřich Smetana Museum is engaged in the presentation of the results of its work to the public, popularizing Bedřich Smetana and his work, and in particular attracting visitors of all ages from the wider public with its accompanying events.