About The Lithuanian National Museum
The Lithuanian National Museum is a series of museums that are located within the areas where the city’s castles once stood. The only surviving structure of these castles, the Gediminas Tower, is also part of the National Museum.
History of The Lithuanian National Museum
The museum was established in 1952. It exists over many structures which display a wide collection of written materials and artefacts. It also organises archaeological digs in Lithuania.
The Museum of Antiquities in Vilnius was founded in 1855, and served as the forerunner of The Lithuanian National Museum. It focussed on the culture of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy.
After the January Uprising of 1863, the Russian Empire moved much of the collection to Moscow, with the remaining collection being incorporated into the Vilnius Public Library. It moved between Moscow and Lithuania as the First World War approached, and it was only after Vilnius became a part of Poland in 1919 that the organisation was incorporated into Vilnius University.
In 1952, the museum became a separate entity, and in 1967 it became a part of Vilnius Castle Complex’s New Arsenal.
The museum’s collection grew during the 1970s and 80s, and in 1992, after Lithuania re-established its independence, it was renamed the National Museum of Lithuania.
The Lithuanian National Museum Today
Two of the main exhibition locations of the Lithuanian National Museum are the city’s Old and New Arsenals, which together house a series of exhibits chronicling the country’s history up to World War Two.
The Old Arsenal mainly focuses on prehistoric Lithuania through a vast archaeological collection and also has a medieval exhibit up to the thirteenth century. Meanwhile, the New Arsenal picks up from the thirteenth century with the establishment of the state of Lithuania and up to the early twentieth century.
The main departments within both the Old and New Arsenal complexes are History and Latest History, Archaeology, Ethnography, Numismatics, and Iconography, which totals around 800,000 items.
Other buildings include the House of Histories, The Gediminas Castle Tower (which is also the most visited site within the complex), The House of Signatories, The Bastion of Vilnius Defence Wall, Kazys Varnelis House-Museum, The Former Detention House, Jonas Basanavičius Birthplace, Vincas Kurdirka Museum, and the Jonas Šliūpas Museum.
Getting to The Lithuanian National Museum
From the centre of Vilnius, the New Arsenal section of the museum is a 5 minute drive via Vilniaus g. and Žygimantų g., and a 9 minute walk via Gedimino pr. The Old Arsenal site is a 10 minute walk from the centre of the city, via Gedimino pr., and a 10 minute drive via Vilniaus g. and Žygimantų g.