From the hummingbird to the tapeworm
Kaunas Tadas Ivanauskas Museum of Zoology is one of the oldest museums in Lithuania and one of the most visited places in Kaunas. It was established in 1919 by the initiative of professor Tadas Ivanauskas. The purpose of museum is to collect scientifically valuable natural heritage objects and help society to understand the natural world properly and become acquainted with the variety of fauna. Here you can find animals living in Lithuania and other countries of the world and learn about their varietal diversity, evolution, behaviour and the living environment. Visitors can find ~15,000 exhibits in the halls and there are ~250,000 exhibits in the scientific funds. Here are also 3 laboratories – Bioanalysis, Preparation of Biological Specimens and Taxidermy. The museum also owns the Lithuanian Bird Ringing Centre.
The oldest stuffed animals and birds of the museum’s collection were made by Leonardas Ivanauskas, father of professor Tadas Ivanauskas, in 1859-1861. They were brought to museum from Belarus, Lida Region, former Lebiodka manor house. As a schoolboy, Tadas Ivanauskas started to collect insects. Later, while studying in the Universities of St. Petersburg and Sorbonne, he used to collect zoological material in Lithuania, Belarus and, in 1914 and 1917, he already started to organise the first expeditions to Murman, North Norway and islands of the Arctic Ocean.
In 1919, in Kaunas, the professor established Nature Research Station giving the start to the museum. Here, the laboratory works were conducted and lectures were taught to students. After the establishment of the University of Lithuania in Kaunas, in 1922, the Museum of Zoology passed to the ownership of the university. Here, all researches related to the Lithuanian fauna were conducted, the relations with the universities of eighteen European countries, nature research stations and zoological museums were contracted, the exchange in exponents started to be used. In 1931, the Professor organized his most famous 3-month expedition to Brazil and the collections made of rainforest fauna brought from this expedition have considerably enriched the museum’s collection.
In 1970, the museum was named after its establisher Tadas Ivanauskas. Since 1914, the museum has organised 42 expeditions to various regions around the globe: Turkmenia, Kola Peninsula, Murmansk, Brazil, Barents Sea and other places. Tadas Ivanauskas participated in twelve expeditions. Currently, the employees of museum organise zoological expeditions, participate in scientific conferences and contribute to various Lithuanian and international environmental projects.
The zoological material brought from the expeditions is systemised, used for making stuffed animals, augment the museum’s exposition and scientific funds. The museum also benefits from the donated personal collections. The exponents arrive from various environmental organisations: the Lithuanian Zoo, nature research stations, live nature corners and private persons.
The museum is the source of science and culture and performs various functions of introduction to nature, environmental, ecological and aesthetical education. It continues to write the chronicle for future generations encouraging to love nature through the acquaintance with it.
Exposition begins with the oldest exhibit of museum made by Leonardas Ivanauskas – stuffed Pallas’s Sandgrouse.