About the museum
The mission of Gargždai Regional Museum is to provide a consistent and purposeful representation of the history of Gargždai in the region, district and Lithuania.
Gargždai Regional Museum’s vision of valuable significance is to fulfill the following:
- To present consistent and detailed history of the region;
- To responsibly and consistently reveal the history, accumulation of ethnographic substance, care and systematization of its exhibits;
- That it is open to the public and that it has a wide range of partners;
- To prioritise enduring value;
- To attract at least 10 000 visitors per year;
- To seek new forms and methods of activities.
The interwar Gargzdai 1918 – 1939
”There was a market square and a well for watering horses next to the church. Quite near, in the city center was a huge pond, which was surrounded by a trail and later by a sidewalk. People used to walk around the pond after worship (just like now in the theatre). In the evenings, the sidewalk was occupied by the youth. The shady pond and a mysterious trail attracted every resident. Here, there was always an uproar. Sometimes a bit muted, sometimes overly saturated, but the spirit was always there. (...)“ From a conversation between P. Dirgelė and J. Lankutis. 11th of June 1986.
Historically, Gargzdai was a border town for a long time. The culture was much different from Kaunas, the capital at the time since customs officers, wealthy shopkeepers, farmers and brook girls naturally created their own, slightly different traditions. How the residents of Gargždai carried out trade, what kind of transport rolled through the streets of the town, what celebrations were mentioned by the residents and many other “frozen” moments in time can be seen in the exhibition: "Interwar Gargzdai 1918 - 1939".
The presented exposition is the result of a project executed in 2014 – 2015. The purpose of the project was to renew and adapt the exposition ”The Images Of the Old City Gargzdai“ to different age groups. The Financial sources funding the project were the Lithuanian Culture Council and the Klaipeda district municipality. Everyone visiting the exhibition of the Gargždai Regional Museum ”Interwar Gargždai 1918-1939” will have the opportunity to gain knowledge about the longest surviving European border, about the intersection of two ethnographic regions, their differences and similarities and the history about the interwar period from Gargzdai to Lithuania and Europe‘s most important events in 1918-1939.
The exposition is adapted for both interactive cognition and more detailed exploration. Educational activities and specialized tours are offered for organized visitor groups.
We welcome you to visit!
Banishment and resistance in Klaipeda district
Museum of the History of Freedom Fights and Exile
During the time period of 1940-1953 Lithuania was sowed by death and loss. The occupant taken "harvest" - the grand banishment to Siberia and other remote regions of the USSR, the killing of innocent people, repression and the destruction of post-war resistance. The exposition on banishment and resistance in Klaipėda district is located in the museum's three building complex. It was formerly a German gendarmerie built in 1909. In the post-war period, the Priekule district security, and later the neighborhood settled there. In 2006 - the museum. The authentic structure and shape of the homestead has remained.
The stationary stand exhibit is located in the three main rooms of the building. In the first two rooms pictured is the post-war resistance struggle that took place in Klaipėda district. The northern part of our district operates Kardas selection of Žemaičių county partisan compounds – Žygimantas, Kaributas and Briedis order. The southwest of the district operates Butigeidis selection of partisan compounds – Rambynas order. The Iron Wolf platoon was operating in the neighboring area of Šilutė, but partisans originating from our area also fought there. The stationary stand exhibits the stages of the resistance, the fighting structure, the places in which the fighting took place, and the depicted freedom fighters and the liaison officers which can be seen in copies of pictures. There are also some original items found, donated or made according to the original specimen - a primus, found in the Aisenas Forest, near a former partisan bunker, a partisan commander's chair and a sleeve cap.
In the third room there is an exposition on exile. Approximately 2402 people were banished from the eleven elderships of Klaipėda district in 1941-1953. They were forced to live in unsuitable barracks and they were met with hard slave labor in the most remote regions of the USSR. Many people died in exile during this period as a result of burnout and disease in the North Snowy Mountains or in the salt deserts of the southern areas. Approximately 443 inhabitants of Klaipeda district were deported to the GULAG camps from 1940 to 1951. This can be said about the 1949–1953 time period when looking at the data from individual documents in the Museum‘s archive. More accurate information collected from five volumes of the Genocide Directory of the Lithuanian population is from the years 1940 to 1948.
The stands show the extent of exile in the Lithuania and Klaipėda region. It also shows how the deportees lived, worked, created, and protected their Lithuanian identity far from their homeland. You can see a variety of handcrafted items, household items, as well as a variety of documents. You can also hear stories not only about regular deportees, but also political prisoners. The material for exhibitions has been collected since 1997. This includes donated photos, items, documents and letters received from ex-political prisoners and exiles or from their loved ones.
A temporary prison of the NKVD-NKGB division of Priekule district was established in the basement of the museum in the postwar period. Now it’s a part of the exhibition. Vaulted ceilings, concrete floors, arched windows, red masonry and an interesting drainage system demonstrates the German domination period. The building itself, or rather, the complex of three buildings, is a typical late 19th-early 20th century East Prussian government building. It serves as an example of gendarmerie which almost didn’t survive in Minor Lithuania. It represents both East Prussian architecture and post-war historical events.
The outdoor exhibit consists of a garden hut where a morgue was built in the post-war period. There, the dead bodies of despised partisans were held locked overnight. Currently it is a chapel - a place of remembrance. Behind the chapel stands an exile wagon. It was made in 1944 Germany and was later used for deportation. Obtained from the Ministry of Culture, the wooden parts of the wagon were restored and the iron parts were kept original. Visitors can board the wagon and sit on the deckchairs; larger groups can test how many people are able to fit in the wagon. The story of the journey to exile being told is based on the memories of the deportees. The museum site has a mass grave of resistance. A memorial is erected there. The story about the stigma surrounding partisans, their burial, and the search for their post-war remains is told once again. There is a typical guerrilla bunker at the back of the site, which can also be observed and tested out. The visitors of the museum can not only learn about exile and resistance, but also about the past of Minor Lithuania. The homestead stands out from the rest of the buildings of its epoch and region due to its good condition showing a more or less authentic exterior, materials, structures and so on. Such special purpose buildings (the gendarmerie) have hardly survived in Minor Lithuania. Therefore, the museum complex is considered to be an uncommon relic of its era.
Ieva Simonaitytė - chronicler of Minor Lithuania
The permanent exhibition of the Ieva Simonaitytė Memorial Museum consists of two parts.
The first –(and the largest) part of the exposition consists of memorial rooms and the writer's authentic personal belongings which are stored and exhibited. The first room in the ground floor of the house has the dining environment of the 1970s: a large table covered by a tablecloth, chairs and dishes stored in a cupboard. The second room is the living room. It contains living room furniture: a rug, a cupboard with glazed shelves for souvenirs and books and a coffee table to put mugs on. You can see wall-hung paintings and writer's portraits as well as the saved fireplace with a low brick wall next to it. On the second floor of the house is the writer’s office - a desk, a sofa, a table, two armchairs and a bookcase with glazed shelves for books.
Another part of the exposition is on the ground floor of the house - a veranda where a literary exposition is set up. Here you can get acquainted with the most important facts about Ieva Simonaitytė's life, illustrated photos, documents, facsimiles of manuscripts. Also copies of the first editions of I. Simonaitytė's books which are on display.
Visitors can see I. Simonaitytė's typewriter: CONTINENTAL 340.
Klaipeda region farmer's homestead
The Agluonėnai Ethnographic Homestead complex consists of five buildings: decking (where most of the homestead events took place), barn (room for exhibitions, educational activities), basement ( an equipped lounge with fireplace), arbor (an outdoor exposition site) and the main dwelling house occupying the place of the homestead.
The house holds an authentic late 19th century exhibit interior the Lithuanian farmer lived in and his household and work tools. In the living part of the house, the kitchen, the entrance hall, the cold room exhibits the furniture and the household utensils of the last mistress Marė Vytienė and other items, work tools purchased or gifted by the inhabitants of the surrounding villages.
The left end of the house retains the authentic interior of the last part of the farmstead. The farmstead was the main family room. It was heated by a wood-burning stove. Near it was a bench. Here they used to eat, sleep, weave during the winter, spin and do other farm work. Relations with Germany led to the rapid spread of urban decor which was imported rather than self-made: polished furniture, purchased fabrics and so on. In the middle of the room - table, chairs, near the wall - hosts' beds, cradle, wardrobe. The only polychrome piece of furniture is a bright chest.
There is a variety of work tools (for carpentry, coopering, clog making, etc.) and household items (various forms of butter churners, mills, scales, etc.) which were purchased or donated by residents of the surrounding villages and are displayed in the cold room and in the backyard.