The 1855-founded museum is dedicated to the ancient and modern history and culture of Lithuania. The museum holdings are housed in a number of buildings, including the most significant one - the Vilnius Castle complex with the buildings of the Old and New Arsenals and the Gediminas Castle Tower. The collection, divided into five departments (history, archaeology, ethnography, numismatics and iconography), comprises some 80 000 items: paintings, icons, jewellery, ceramics, furniture, clothing, coins, medals, maps, historical documents, etc. The chronologically-arranged displays reveal the history and culture of the Lithuanian people from the birth of the Grand Duchy to World War II. The Department of Ethnography presents an overview of the different lifestyles of various regions of Lithuania: the authentic interiors, original clothing items and household objects conjures up the image of the life Lithuanian peasants, townspeople and noblemen led over the course of several centuries.
The permanent exhibition at the New Arsenal explores the history of the ancient Lithuania: from the founding of the state in the 13th century, to its partition in 1795. Another section is dedicated to the material culture of traditional folk art, covering the time from the 18th century to the early 1900s.
The building of the Old Arsenal houses one of the largest collections of archaeological materials in Europe. Featuring unique examples of Baltic culture, it covers the time from the 11th century BC when the first settlements appeared in the territory of Lithuania, to the 13th century when the Lithuanian state was born.
The Museum of Applied Art opened in 1987 in the renovated building of the 17th century Old Arsenal; its permanent exhibition features works of applied arts dating from the 14th to the 20th centuries. The display on the first floor covers the time through 1945 and features the creations of both Lithuanian and foreign artisans: bookbinders' works, clothing embroidered by monks, belts woven at the Radvila workshop, candlesticks and reliquaries made by goldsmiths, glazed tiles, tapestries from Brussels, furniture from Danzig, Meissen and Sèvres porcelain, textiles, glass, ceramic, amber and metal objects from Vienna and Bohemia. The second-floor halls house a collection of applied arts dating from the post-war era.
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Keywords: Vilnius, museum