* Full-time pupils of schools of general education; full-time students of schools of higher education; citizens of the Republic of Lithuania and other countries of the European Union studying full-time in schools of higher education in the member states of the European Union; pensioners (under 80); persons who suffered from the occupations between 1939 and 1990 – political prisoners and deportees, former inmates of ghettos and concentration or other forced labour camps; persons who fought for the independence of the Republic of Lithuania and suffered from Soviet aggression on 11–13 January 1991 and onwards; participants in the resistance movement against the occupations between 1940 and 1990 – volunteer soldiers and freedom fighters; teachers. Discount is applied upon presentation of an appropriate ID.
Expositions are free of charge for the following visitors:
pre-school children; orphans and children who have lost guardianship by their parents; people with a disability and their one accompanying person; persons from 80 years of age; employees of Lithuania’s museums; members of the International Council of Museums (ICOM); residents of children care homes and socially supported children; teachers accompanying groups of schoolchildren; Vilnius Pass card holders (valid for visiting The New Arsenal, The Old Arsenal, The House of Signatories, Gediminas Castle Tower, The Bastion of the Vilnius Defence Wall, Kazys Varnelis House-Museum, House of Histories); students of Lithuanian art schools for children and youth; students of Vilnius College of Technologies and Design; students of Balys Dvarionas decennary music school; members of the Lithuanian Association of Art Historians; members of the International Association of Art Critics; members of the Lithuanian Association of Archaeologists; guides with valid guide ID; guides accompanying groups of tourists; employees of the Cultural Heritage Department at the Ministry of Culture and its territorial branches; cadets and conscripts from General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania; soldiers of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas Headquarters Battalion; members of the Lithuanian army volunteer union; employees of Lithuanian Post; journalists; Family Card holders; students of Vilnius Academy of Arts; students of the Faculty of History at Vilnius University; citizens of Ukraine; organised migrant groups; all visitors on the last Sunday of each month.
Educational activities of the National Museum of Lithuania’s expositional locations are free of charge for the following visitors:
children under 3 years of age; residents of children care homes and socially supported children; people with a disability and their one accompanying person; teachers accompanying groups of schoolchildren.
Concessions are applied upon the visitor providing valid ID that prooves right to specific concessions. This ID requirement does not apply to pre-school children and all visitors on the last Sunday of each month.
The beginning of the exhibition transports the visitor to the Vilnius Antiquities Museum (1855–1915), on the basis of which the National Museum of Lithuania was later established. The Antiquities Museum’s artifacts and original glass display cases present the only such example of a “museum within a museum” and recreate the spirit and atmosphere of that earlier institution.
The next room offers a thorough presentation of Lithuania’s history – from the formation of the state in the 13th century to its fall in 1795, and how the societies of those eras lived.
The second floor introduces visitors to the turbulent years of the 19th and 20th centuries. This was a period of rebellion and the struggle for freedom, a time during which the nation took shape and modernized, all of it leading up to the proclamation of Lithuania’s independence on 16 February 1918.
In other second-floor exhibition rooms visitors can see Lithuanian ethnic culture artifacts dating from the 18th century to the first half of the 20th century and related to the traditions and everyday life of Lithuanian peasant, folk art, ethnic costumes, residential interiors, and Lithuanian iron crosses, which have been recognized by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage.
The National Museum of Lithuania sits at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers, the site where the Vilnius castle compound was established centuries ago. This ensemble included not only the Lower and Upper Castles, but also the Old and New Arsenal buildings. During the 16th century, the New Arsenal was the private residence of Sigismund Augustus, Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. It was referred to as the New Riverside Hall because, at the time, a tributary of the Vilnia flowed past the building’s facade.
The Grand Duke’s residence was built by Benedykt Sandomierzanin, from Kraków, while the finishings and interior were completed by specially hired furniture makers, carpenters, tile stove craftsmen and stonemasons. The facade of the new palace faced the gardens, which contained three ponds and extended as far as today’s Tilto Street. Legend has it that Sigismund Augustus built this lavish residence with its gardens, ponds and swans to gain the favour of his future wife, Barbara Radziwiłł, with whose death the palace lost its exclusive status.
The period to the end of the 18th century marks another stage in the building’s evolution. After Lithuania was absorbed by Imperial Russia and the Russian army established itself in the Lower Castle, the New Arsenal was used to store the military district’s artillery. During this period the building was refashioned according to the strict classicism preferred in Imperial Russia. A six-column portico was added and the windows were reset. The facade acquired the more dull expression typical of buildings allocated to the Imperial Russia’s military needs. While at first canons were stored here, the building was later adapted as a barracks. With the 1863 Uprising it also came to serve as a prison for political prisoners.
The New Arsenal building continued to be used for military purposes up to and following the Second World War. The National Museum of Lithuania was established in the New Arsenal building in the 1960s and opened to the public in 1968. Today the museum offers expositions dedicated to the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the tumultuous transitional period of the 19th century, and Lithuanian ethnography.