Can you imagine the museum which is four times the size of the Vatican? At the place where the Lithuanian ethnography meets the Lithuanian nature, resides the open-air Lithuanian Folk Museum. With around 150 ethnographical buildings spread over a landscape of 195 ha, this museum is among Europe's largest museums. Located in Rumšiškės village, very close to Kaunas city, this museum shows not only the reflection on all ethnographic regions and towns of Lithuania but also is a treasury of tradition.
This impressively large museum was opened in 1974, to depict five ethnographic areas of Lithuania - Dzūkija (Dainava), Aukštaitija (Highlands), Suvalkija (Sudovia), Žemaitija (Samogitia) and Lithuania Minor. The exhibition at the museum shows the regions' architecture as it looked at the end of the 18th century until the first half of the 20th century. Besides the ethnographical relicts, the museum is proud of its unique, Baroque wooden architecture example - the Aristavėlės manor house. Moreover, the museum has a separate exhibition dedicated to the remembrance and resistance of Lithuanians.
Ten kilometers of walking to explore all area of this museum sounds quite challenging; however, once you start exploring this museum, it's hard to stop. A thrilling thing about this museum is that it presents not only the traditional architecture but also shows the cultural life and traditions of the different regions. The museum shows brewing customs of Aukštaitija region and how they intertwine with culture - the conventional way of beer making in Biržai, the preparation of weddings, or the remembering of the dead in various areas of Lithuania. Also, some parts of the museum have interactive activities - places where exhibits can be touched or smelled. Furthermore, the museum grows animals - bees, sheep, goats, and horses; thus, so children find a special joy in it!
The center of the museum is a reduced depiction of 20th-century Lithuanian typical city. This place of the museum is the most popular, perhaps because of its exciting exhibits - the school, an inn, a church, a drugstore and other archetypes of an old town that can be found there.
The museum is open all year round; however, the interior exhibition is open for visitors just during the warmer seasons - usually from May till September. For a more exciting experience, I would recommend visiting the museum during the biggest ethnographic celebrations in Lithuania - the Užgavėnės Winter Celebration and the Midsummer Festival Joninės (June 23rd). Also, one of the largest summer festivals of Lithuania - Granatos Summer Festival happens in the area of the museum.
The Lithuanian Folk Museum - a treasury of tradition in Rumšiškės, should have a place on your bucket list, as it presents the authentic view of traditional Lithuanian architecture and customs. While nowadays, Lithuania is surrounded by modern design and trends, this museum shows the real example of conventional regions and cultural heritage of Lithuania.
Cover picture © Credits to iStock/Birute
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