The architectural ensemble of Vilnius university, 2022.
The Vilnius University Senate Commission approved the Museum of Vilnius University on February 23, 2010. Today, the museum holds collections of paintings, prints, medals, numismatics, manuscripts, sculptures, rare prints, and other books. The collections are related to the University and the history of Vilnius and the Lithuanian state.
The history of Vilnius University Museum has its roots in the Soviet times. The current museum is based on the old University Science Museum, housed in St. John's Church on September 16, 1979. The idea was conceived by the Rector, Jonas Kubilius, in the run-up to the 400th anniversary of the University (1979). The first director of the Museum was Vincas Žilėnas, one of the most prominent Lithuanian museologists of the second half of the 20th century, who also assembled the first collections of the Museum.
Vilnius University Museum archive photos.
Permanent exhibitions and a project for the VU 400th anniversary exhibition were prepared for the museum's opening. According to Žilėnas' vision, the part of the jubilee exhibition dedicated to the history of Lithuanian science was to be called "The Development of Lithuanian Science from the Earliest Times to 1940". It was to become permanent, while the part of an exhibition dedicated to the achievements of Soviet science in 1940-1979 was to be temporary, only until the end of the jubilee year. Exhibits for the exposition were collected in two ways: borrowed from museums and archives and commissioned from Lithuanian artists.
After the restoration of Lithuania's independence, the Science Museum of Vilnius University lost its independence and, together with the Adam Mickiewicz Museum, became subdivisions of the University's Library. Vytautas Gricius, the Museum's custodian of collections, started his work in 1979, managed the Museum's collections, collected new exhibits as and when possible, and worked at the Museum until 2018, distinguishing himself as the Museum's longest-serving employee and a significant contributor to the collections. Since 2010, when the museum took on a new concept, Dr. Ramūnas Kondratas has been the head of the museum until 2020. During the ten years, the bell tower of St. John's Church was opened, new staff members were hired, opportunities for interns and volunteers were created, and the network of cooperation was expanded, etc. Monika Ramonaitė has been the Director of the Museum since 2020.
The Museum is now housed in St. John's Church and has several departments - the VU architectural ensemble and bell tower, the Adam Mickiewicz Museum, and the M. K. Čiurlionis Street Observatory. One of the main goals of the Museum is to: collect, preserve and study the values of the University's academic, cultural, and scientific heritage; to present the University's rich and distinguished history, its cultural and scientific heritage to the University community, the Lithuanian public and foreign visitors and to promote in various ways its rich and distinguished history; to cooperate with the University's other departments, museums, cultural and scientific organizations in Lithuania and abroad. The Museum offers the public various excursions and educational activities and tries to update and introduce new ones every year. The Museum also actively contributes to Vilnius University's initiative "Returning Memory" by assisting in selecting candidates for the "Memory Diplomas" and preserving and preparing the diplomas. Vilnius University Museum is a space for communion, communication of the university heritage, and discussions on important scientific topics.
The museum is a member of the Lithuanian Museums Association (LMA) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM). It participates in ICOM's International Committee for University Museums and Collections (UMAC) and Universeum - European Academic Heritage Network.
Guided tour of Vilnius University Museum, Justinas Auškelis photo