If knowledge is power, then museums are power stations; and here in Vilnius you can fully charge that big battery of a brain with exhibitions ranging from art and cinema, to history and technology, and even illusion and torture. Here you’ll find all the information you need to become the most powerful person on the plane home! But let’s not think about going home yet! Read on for my top picks of Vilnius’ most diverse museums to visit during your stay.
For all things Lithuanian – The National Museum
Surely the best place to start for any traveller who really wants to understand the place they’re staying in is a worthwhile visit to the Lithuanian National Museum. Located in the Cathedral Square on Arsenalo gatve, the museum is right next door to the beautiful Vilnius Cathedral, and stands in the shadow of the imposing and magnificent Gedimino Tower.
The museum focuses on the history of Lithuania, from prehistoric times to the formation of the state and the 20th century, including many fascinating objects relating to Lithuanian ethnic culture. There are several buildings that form the museum complex, with the main exhibition being found in ‘The New Arsenal’.
Opening hours are 10-18:00 and it is closed on Mondays. Tickets cost €2 for adults, with reduced rates for seniors, students and children.
For magic and mystery – The Museum of Illusion
With a €10 price tag (free for children under 7) this is perhaps one of the more expensive activities you can indulge in during your stay. However, with its combination of quirky tricks and downright crazy experiences, this amusing museum on 6 Vokiečių gatve is a firm favourite for many Vilnius visitors.
With a large number of interactive exhibits spread over two floors, the museum provides a good amount of jaw-dropping activities which both adults and children will love to engage in. Besides visual illusions there are also some more scientific activities as well as illusions in sound and light. It’s a great way to spend up to two hours playing and experimenting; and you’re sure to leave with a funny set of photos as well.
Opening times are 10:00 – 21:00, seven days a week. Tickets cost €10 with no concessions, although children under 7 years old can go in free.
For more of the dark side – Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights (KGB Museum)
Situated in the old KGB prison at 2A Aukų gatve, this museum houses interesting and shocking exhibits on the period of the Soviet occupation; the local resistance to it and the activities of the Soviet secret police, the KGB. Here you will learn about the valiant efforts of partisan fighters or ‘Forest Brothers’ engaged in trying to fight a clandestine war against the Red Army; and you will discover the fate of those who were captured, interrogated, tortured and executed; all in the actual places where these events really happened.
Perhaps the most disturbing element of a visit to this museum is stepping inside the old prison cells in the basement, which have been preserved in the exact same condition as they were in when the KGB officers finally withdrew from the building in August 1991.
Opening hours are 10-18:00 and it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tickets cost €4 for adults or €1 for seniors and students.
For people who love science, or just pressing buttons - Energy and Technology Museum
This is my favourite museum in Vilnius. Located just across the river, on 2 Rinktinės gatve, the museum of Energy and Technology is affordable and suitable for children as well as adults. There are a number of different exhibitions to experience including transport, interactive science for kids, the incredible tubes, pipes and engineering works of Vilnius’ first central power plant, and a history of Vilnius’ manufacturing industry and its industrialisation.
The museum itself is built inside the premises of the original central power station of Vilnius, and is the largest museum in Lithuania. All the electricity for the building is generated on-site, thanks to a wind and solar energy powerhouse that was installed on the roof during the power station to museum conversion period in 2006.
Opening hours are 10-18:30 Tuesday to Saturday and it is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Tickets cost €3 for adults or €1.50 for seniors, students and children.