Vilnius – The New Arsenal

The New Arsenal (as opposed to the Old Arsenal building) is the oldest museum in the country and dates back to 1855. Its collections cover a variety of periods of Lithuanian history and also some exhibits from other cultures.

This sarcophagus was given to the museum in 1899 by Prince Chlodwig Karl Viktor Hohenlohe, the then Chancellor of Germany and Prime Minister of Prussia.

A sledge from Lithuania, dating to the early part of the eighteenth century.

A flogging board used on serfs.

A model of the Battle of Grunwald, which was one of the largest battles during the medieval period. It was won decisively in 1410 by the Polish-Lithuanian army against the Teutonic Knights, who were a powerful religious body. Although it wasn’t the end of the Teutonic Knights, it was a significant setback and their reputation was heavily damaged after the battle.

I’m sure there’s a wonderful history behind this pew, but the information board simply notes that it’s from a Lithuanian church and dates to 1683.

This is the sign that was located outside the Fraternity House of St. Ann and it is dated 1642. I do wonder where this sign has been for the last few hundred years, given the number of fires, wars and disasters which have befallen the city, that anything survives often surprises me.

This is the lock from one of the city’s gates, thought to date from around the seventeenth century.

This is the memorial plate which noted the start of the construction of a monument to Mikhail Muravyov in Vilnius. The memorial was unveiled in 1898, but Muravyov is not a popular figure in the city, he closed down Vilnius University, shut down an anti-Russian demonstration and is known as “the hangman of Vilnius”. There is an interesting story that bear fat was spread on the monument, which led to tens of dogs barking and licking at the feet of Muravyov. The monument was torn down in 1915.

This wooden violin is from the 1860s and it was made by one of the participants in the 1863 uprising.

There are a number of rooms in the museum which are recreations of what homes might have looked liked in previous centuries.

I’m not particularly engaged in displays of clothing and material, but this is a comprehensive set of recreated period clothing.

Crosses are a bit of a thing in Lithuania and the art is known as cross crafting. They can signify many things, whether the death of a member of the community, but they can also represent victory in wars or other good fortune. These three crosses are from across the country and all date from the second half of the nineteenth century.


A marvellous collection of wooden sculptures.

To my delight, the special temporary exhibition on the ground floor was about books, all from the collection of Jaunius Gumbis. The book above dates to 1514 and is entitled The Battle of the King of Poland with the Muscovite, making it one of the earliest military history books.

Coloniae Agrippinae, published in Cologne in 1519, a history book of the medieval states east of Germany, including what is now the territory of Lithuania.

An incunable, this one dating to 1478 and it’s a book about geography, the Cosmography of the World.

All in all, this museum had an eclectic range of exhibits, but everything was well presented and it was spacious and organised. Entrance usually costs €3, although I got in free with my Vilnius City Card.