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Czech National Museum exhibits masks made during pandemic

PRAGUE – The National Museum in Prague has put on display the most visible symbol of the Czech Republic's response to the coronavirus - face masks.

The Czech government made wearing masks in public mandatory in mid-March. Amid an initial shortage, many people started making their own masks.

Some of the masks featured in the museum exhibition were made by leading fashion designers, while others are the handiwork of creative home crafters.

One mask was made from a cloth on which a 15-year-old boy with autism painted a map of Prague’s public transportation network. A woman created another from a shirt her husband wore at their wedding. Also on exhibit is a model with a flap strategically placed with Velcro to allow for drinking and staying safe.

“If we want to leave a legacy for future generations, this collection of face masks says only positive things about us,” National Museum spokeswoman Lenka Bouckova said Thursday. “That as a nation we are able to face a challenge in a positive way and we are able to stick together. The face masks are a clear expression of that.”

The Czech Republic had a total of 9,103 confirmed virus cases and 317 deaths as of Thursday. The mandatory mask-wearing and other early virus-prevention measures are thought to have limited infections in the country compared to other parts of Europe.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis trumpeted his government's mask policy to U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Mr. President @realDonaldTrump, try tackling the virus Czech way,” Babis tweeted on March 29, adding that even “a simple cloth mask” significantly decreased the spread of the virus.

The Nation Museum exhibition is set to expand with future donations when people no longer need to use masks.