Historically Vilnius region is known for the fact that people of various cultural, language, and religious backgrounds coexisted peacefully. Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Belorussian and other national traditions, customs, and trades make up this rich and colourful heritage. Some national traditions have blended over time, while others remained exclusively unique.
Pine tree and lakes surround one of the oldest settlements in Lithuania, Nemenčinė,which is known for its multinational character. Nemenčinė, situated nearly 20 kilometres northeast of Vilnius, around the estuary of the River Nemenčiainvites travellers to visit Vilnius Area Ethnography Museum, which has the task to preserve and spread the beauty of the blended national cultural heritage.
The Museum opened its doors in February of 2000 and has around 1,000 artefacts. It was a collective benevolent effort of the people in the region. The permanent exposition has a wide variety of Vilnija region home utensils, furniture, tools, and everyday items used in traditional crafts. The number of exhibits continues to grow as interesting artefacts from throughout Vilnius region are regularly added.
In addition to the permanent exposition travellers are also invited to visit temporary commemorative folk art, fine art, photography, and old craft expositions. Vilnius Area Ethnography Museum’s society of photographers was founded in 2012 and is an active organiser of artistic workshops in nature.
The museum is responsible for the organisation of various cultural activities. As a result, concerts, conferences, various educational activities for children and adults are frequently held here. Along with the expositions that introduce us to old wood carving, pattern cutting and other crafts, there are also ceramic and weaving workshops. Everyone can make a unique household utensil using clay or ancient weaving looms with the help of a professional.
Vilnius Area Ethnography Museum can be visited from Wednesday through Sunday. It is advised to inquire about the opening hours prior to visiting.
Vilnius Area Ethnography Museum unites four branches scattered throughout the region. Going northbound from Nemenčinė you can stop at Sužionys village and visit a large ethnographic exposition. Another branch located next to the shores of Lake Širvys near Paberžė village is located in the impressive Glitiškiai estate palace, which traces its roots back to the latter half of the 15th century. In Čekoniškės village, on the eastern side of Neris Regional Park guests can look around the decorative palm and household house. This branch introduces visitors to the decorative palm making technique unique to Vilnius region, common plants used for this craft and so on. Maišiagala town museum of Monsignor Juzefas Obrembskis (the fourth branch) introduces notable Catholic personalities and a variety of exhibits that tell the story of the Church.
The ethnographic museum was founded by Vilnius District Municipality society and introduces visitors to the heritage of many cultures. Nearly 1,000 exhibits tell the story about Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Belorussian and other national traditions.
The museum’s permanent exposition is comprised of numerous ancient household utensils brought in by people living in Vilnius region: pitchers, bowls, fabric and so on. It is also full of traditional clothing, sabots, furniture, books, as well as documents and art works. There are many tools used by craftsmen and farmers among its exhibits.
Local lore studies are very important, and every effort is made to get local people involved in ethnographic research. Lithuanian and Polish youth happily participate in specially organised scientific expeditions. Exhibits gathered during the expeditions add and complement the permanent museum exposition.
Vilnius Area Ethnography Museum is an integral part of Nemenčinė cultural life. There are regular nature and scientific events. In addition to expositions, concerts, and conferences, the museum gives locals and village guests alike the opportunity to participate in educational workshops.
Specially equipped ceramic and weaving workshops invite you to learn these ancient craft techniques. There are courses for children and adults. Workshop teachers constantly refine their skills at international traditional craft classes organised by the Polish Vegnoževas (Węgorzewo) National Cultural Centre.
Nemenčinė is nestled in a picturesque forest and is managed and maintained by Nemenčinė Forest Directorate. Visitors enjoy conveniences such as rest areas, children’s playgrounds, restored bicycle paths.
The territories abound with exclusive landscape objects. On the right side of the River Nemenčia stands a hill fort, next to it Skališkių, or Crying rock, a suspension bridge spans the River Neris and invites travellers to test their courage.
It impossible not to mention and not to visit one completely unique object – the half-kilometre long text ‘Žalgiris 600’ sculpted out of 7,000 spruce tree seedlings. This monument in Bezdonys forest commemorates the 600th anniversary of the battle of Grunwald (Žalgiris). It can be seen from the window of a plane. Today it is the biggest inscription made out of trees!