Gargždai Area Museum was founded on the 3rd of March 2005, and first opened its doors to the town‘s community and guests on the 22nd of December of the same year. The founder of the museum is Klaipėda District Municipality.
Under the favourable circumstances, Gargždai Area Museum soon began to expand. 2006 saw the establishment of branch museum in Priekulė – Freedom Fighting and Exile History Museum, 2007 - branch museum in Agluonėnai – Agluonėnai Ethnographic Homestead, 2009 – I. Simonaitytė Memorial Museum in Priekulė. In 2010, J. Gižas Ethnographic Homestead in Dreverna became a final branch of Gargždai Area Museum.
The museum‘s regulations outline the basic goals of its activity: to accumulate, protect, study, preserve, restore, exhibit and popularize spiritual and material values reflecting history and culture of Gargždai Town and Klaipėda District, to connect their protection with visitors‘ cultural and educational needs and providing of cultural services. At the moment the museum‘s team is comprised of 9 specialists: director, holder of the funds, historian-museologist, curator, four branch managers, accountant.
Seeking to proclaim the history of Gargždai Town and our country, as well as to expand the number of visitors, on the 2nd of May 2011, Gargždai Area Museum undersigned a cooperation agreement with UAB “Klaipėdos Mėja“. The agreement created great possibilities for foreign Klaipėda guests arriving by cruise ships to visit the museum.
Since the founding (in 2005), Gargždai Area Museum has had a History Department. It holds and stores exhibits that are related to the history of Gargždai town and Klaipėda district. At the beginning of 2010, the History Department stored 381 exhibits of the main fund and around 1100 exhibits of the auxiliary fund. Gargždai Area Museum is implementing intensive exhibit search works, therefore the History Department is regularly updated with new exhibits as well as exhibits donated by the locals. The Museum team is hoping for Gargždai town and Klaipėda district residents’ cooperation and help in collecting exhibits associated with the history of the region.
The main fund is divided into two collections: History until 1940 and Modern history.
The History until 1940 collection holds 300 exhibits. A big part of the collection is comprised of various publications: books, calendars, magazines, newspapers, posters, maps, religious books, textbooks and other small publications (event programmes, invitations, proclamations, etc.).
Prayer book “Psalmai“ (Psalms) dated 1898 is one of the oldest prints. Also - “NORDEN AF D:R MAGNUS ROTH SKALAN 1:1 MILL P.A. NORSTEDT & SÖNERS FÖRLAG NY ÖFVERSEDD UPPLAGA 1895“, rather informative 1895 map of the Baltic Sea Region released in Sweden.
The collection contains a great number of periodicals issued in Lithuania between the wars, such as the following magazines and newspapers: “Trimitas“, “Kultūra“, “Varpelis“, “Pranciškonų pasaulis“, “Seleziečių žinios“, “Žvaigždė“, “Misijos“, “Ūkininko patarėjas“, “Mūsų girios“, “Teatras“.
Collected items also include numismatic exhibits; currently stored are coins from interwar Lithuania, Russian Empire, German Empire and the Third Reich.
The collection stores various documents which provide many historical details about Gargždai and its residents: passports, school leaving certificates, postal remittance receipts, purchase contracts, etc. A unique document “Appeal to Lithuanian Riflemen's Union in regards to donations to fire-setters“, dated 1939, was prepared by “Gargždai Town Committee for donations to fire-setters“. The document reveals consequences of the devastating fire in Gargždai in 1939 and attempts to eliminate them.
Modern History collection currently consists of 65 exhibits that illustrate the long decades of Soviet occupation. The collection includes various publications, documents, bonds, notes, coins, photographs. In the near future, it is planned to complement the collection with exhibits related to the Reform Movement (Sąjūdis).
As mentioned before, the Auxiliary fund holds around 1100 exhibits. A significant part of the fund consists of occasional medals and badges, as well as a number of publications: books, magazines, newspapers, calendars, brochures, invitations. The Auxiliary fund offers a decent collection of instrumental and lyrical music records which also carry ethnographical value. Mr. Romas Kura donated a rather big banknotes collection, consisting of 185 paper notes from German Empire, Russian Empire and Soviet Union.
A big part of the Auxiliary Fund consists of various documents: a few documents from Rietavas manor, matrimonial agreements, receipts from the Bank of Lithuania Kretinga branch, postal remittance notes, various personal identification documents, etc.
Unique and - when it comes to the residents of Gargždai and surrounding villagers during the interwar period - highly historically informative documents are the 164 notes for postal remittance. The aforesaid documents were found in the building of former Gargždai post office (later – police station). Remittance notes which had been bricked into a wall were found by builders who were repairing the building.