Vilnius University's Observatory of Ideas is a space for education, leisure, and science communication in the unique location of the historical observatory complex on Čiurlionio street. Vilnius University Museum administrates the observatory since 2021.
The history of observatories at Vilnius University dates back to the 18th century when in 1753, an astronomical observatory was established in the center of Vilnius - in the VU ensemble (founded by Tomas Žebrauskas). The Observatory was exciting and used not only by Lithuanians but also by European scientists. Observations in the old building were never resumed, and the expanding city of Vilnius forced astronomers to look for more secluded places. In 1919, Vilnius University opened as the Polish Stephen Batory University. A new location for the Observatory was chosen on the current M. K. Čiurlionio Street. At that time, it was a suburb of Vilnius.
The first temporary wooden pavilion of the observatory was built in 1921 and covered by a 5 m diameter astronomical dome, with a Carsl Zeiss telescope mounted on a unique support column. Over the years, various instruments were bought from Europe, and new premises were needed. In 1933 the pavilion with its two towers was completed. In 1936, the Astronomers' and Meteorologists' House was built to house the scientists' flats and working spaces.
During the inter-war period, the Observatory was mainly used by Władysław Dziewulski, then Rector of the University, and Wilhelmina Iwanowska. Scientists researched stellar photometry. The research was published in the "Bulletin de l'Observatoire astronomique de Wilno" already in 1921. In addition, the Polish Astronomers' Union was also founded in Vilnius in 1923.
Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe, 20th century.
In 1939, due to the city's increasing illumination, astronomers decided to move the Observatory to Aukštieji Paneriai. Still, the outbreak of World War II put an end to these plans. After the closure of the Stefan Batory University (SBU), scientists departured to Toruń. W. Dziewulski and W. Iwanowska brought SBU observatory plans with them, as a result, in Toruń was built another observatory analogous to the Vilnius model.
Under the curatorship of the VU Museum, the observatory is now becoming a space offering hands-on learning activities in the sciences, natural, social, and humanities areas that are dedicated to small-groups. These incorporating new methods encourage people to discover the science and the creativity behind it in everyday life. Unlike other science communication venues, the Observatory of Ideas offers the opportunity to carry out art-science fusion activities and discover new processes for creating and realizing ideas.
Vilnius University "Observatory of Ideas", 2022.