Trakai History Museum

Exhibits of the museum
Other valuables of the museum
All valuables of the museum
Abbreviation TIM
Address Kęstučio g. 4, Trakai, LT-21104 Trakų r. sav., Lietuva
Phone No (8 528) 55 297; (8 528) 53 945; (8 528) 53 941
Fax No (8 528) 55 288
E-mail info@trakaimuziejus.lt
Website
Type by theme istorijos
Institution code 190757189
Bank account number LT 70 4010 0427 0001 0030

Information about the museum

Trakai History Museum was established in 1948, in a scenery nature spot, in the most famous complex of Lithuanian defensive architecture – Castles of Island and Peninsular. The museum and its sections – Medininkai Castle, Seraya Shapshal Karaite Ethnographic Exhibition and Sacral Art Exposition – hold unique archaeological findings and works of graphic and applied art.

Sacral Art Exposition invites visitors to explore the works of church heritage that are important to the Lithuanian culture due to their sacral and artistic value. The visitors of museum will also have a chance to visit the renovated cellar under the Chapel, where the liturgical vessels, religious sculptures, paintings and other object of sacral art are exhibited. Here, everyone will also find the kitchen of Dominican Order introducing the household of the monks of Order.

Trakai is a unique town where people of different nationalities and religious beliefs have always managed to live in peace. The name of town originated from a plural form of Lithuanian word trãkas: i. e., trakai means glades – cut or scorched areas within a woodland. Built at the end of the 14th century by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Kęstutis, the Peninsular Castle was one of the biggest defensive castles in Lithuania and one of the residencies of the Grand Duke. Having lost its status as a residence, it was used as a prison, whereas in the late 16th century it served as the seat of Court of Trakai Voivodeship. The Peninsular Castle, serving as the place for Sacral Art Exposition today, suffered multiple destructions during the times of wars and upheavals. In the 1950s, the concerns related to the conservation of Trakai cultural heritage also prompted the interest in the buildings of the Dominican Monastery. In 1990, the administration of Trakai History Museum was established in the renovated premises of Dominican Monastery. Sacral Art Exposition was opened in 2005 and renewed in 2012.

 

The History of Building
The precise time of settlement of Dominicans in the town Trakai is unknown. However, the fact that in the late 17th century the Peninsular Castle was given to Dominicans by the initiative of Voivode of Trakai Marcjan Aleksander Ogiński is undisputable.  Due to disapproval of voivodes and noblemen, the monks settled in the castle nearly a century later. Here, in 1779, the Dominicans started the construction works of the large three-nave church. During the war of 1812, all buildings of monastery suffered damages, the church, which was still under construction, was left abandoned due to upheaval and lack of funds.  As a result of complicated historical circumstances, the Dominicans were unable to complete the construction works, therefore it was decided to rebuilt the church: in the southern part of building, they established a monastery with 11 cells, a kitchen and a sacristy, whereas the northern part of building was adapted for the Chapel. On the 4th of August of 1822, it was sanctified as the commemoration day of Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order, was celebrated on that day. The Chapel was given the name of Archangel Michael.
On the left is a stained-glass with an illustration of Archangel Michael. He is the oldest of the three archangels referred to in the Holy Bible. Michael Is the leader of all angels, agent of God and messenger on the Earth, who fights with the Devil. 

In the late 18th century and early 19th century, Lithuania was forced to enter into the composition of the Russian Empire. After the revolts of 1831 and 1863, the majority of catholic monasteries were closed and monks were scattered. Buildings of Dominican Monastery devolved upon the Russian military. Later, in the 20th century, during the era of Polish occupation, the frontier police unit was dislocated here. During the World War II, these masonries were occupied by the secret Nazi German police Gestapo and followed by the Soviet Union special force – the KGB (Committee for State Security).

After the restoration of Lithuania’s independence in 1990, the buildings of former Dominican Monastery devolved upon the Trakai History Museum. In the Chapel, renovators managed to rebuild wall altars, artists Daina and Artūras Rimkevičiai decorated windows with stained-glasses illustrating figures of Archangel Michael, Saint Dominic, Saint Casimir and Saint John of Nepomuk. The cellar was also renovated under the Chapel. Thanks to the Museum, the sacral space of this building has been restored.

Branches and units of the museum

  Medininkai Castle Šv. Kazimiero g. 2, Medininkų k., Medininkų sen., LT-13192 Vilniaus r. sav., Lietuva