The most valuable part of the collection, which weighs almost a ton, is military-themed: Among the exhibits there is the flag of the only Lithuanian interwar warship President Smetona, as well as extremely rare special-made weapons for the interwar Lithuanian army with engraved Gediminas pillars and Lithuanian Arms Fund insignia. No less important is the numismatic part of the collection, archival and written sources, rich iconographic material.
Some of the artifacts returned to Lithuania after traveling around the world. For example, Lithuanian army’s weapons after the occupation of the country were nationalized by the Soviets and entered America even from the Korean War. H. Gaidis managed to preserve a very important part of Lithuanian history, and the value of the collection is increased by the fact that it is not silent — the history of some exhibits is known, as well as whom they belonged.
Gaidis Collection reached National Museum of Lithuania back in 2020. About 8000 exhibits were packed in more than 60 boxes. Its acceptance and description procedures alone took more than a year. Although more detailed research of the collection has not begun yet, it is already clear that a significant of the unique material is huge. The value of the collection, calculated on a preliminary basis, is more than 350 000 Euros.
The size of the collection also determined the experimental format of the exhibition: Most of the artifacts were displayed at the opening, so that the visitor could make his own discoveries in the stylized environment of the museum repositories. Meanwhile, researchers who are committed to an unusual experiment will work in the researcher’s office next door for the first three months of the exhibition. The visitors with their help will be able to observe the process in the archives and repositories of the museum, also follow how researchers reveal the content of the collection donated to the museum, and the most interesting their discoveries will become a part of the exhibition later. In this way it will be given a broader context for the exhibits of Gaidis Collection.
Visitors who have purchased a ticket to the exhibition will be able to return to it several times and thus witness the collection research process. The exhibition “Unboxing!” of Gaidis Collection was opened on March 30 in the New Arsenal of Lithuanian National Museum and will run until January 22, 2023.