Learning all about the history of rail transport in Lithuania begins at the Vilnius Railway Station, where the first trains set out across an independent Lithuania a hundred years ago. Today, some of the earliest railway equipment can be seen in the Railway Museum. While the indoor exhibition on the second floor is being modernised, it's time to discover the outdoor historic railway exhibits.
From April to November, the exhibition will feature one of the most spectacular objects – the SO-17 no. 744 with tender 1937 made in Russia at the Krasnyj Profintern plant in Briansk. If you’re up for a challenge you can give riding a hand trolley a try.
12 exhibits are spread out over the 7,100 m2 open-air exhibition area: road vehicles, wagons, trains, locomotives, old scales on display, a water steam pump, a wagon heating boiler, and an old road worker hammer.
Today, the museum has set a new goal of becoming the most modern museum of its kind in the region. The Railway Museum's in-house exhibition will open its door in 2021 as a more interactive, modern and open space. Visitors will be able to take part in augmented reality experiences, railways holograms, a train simulator, an updated audio guide and numerous educational activities. The museum is of particular interest for adults, but little visitors will also find new adventures to embark upon.
The Railway Museum was established in 1966 when the Vilnius County Management of the Baltic Railway established the Railway Workers Hall of Fame. The initially collected material on the diverse life of the railroads, photographs, and several models were the beginnings of the museum's foundation. The museum was located in the current AB Lietuvos geležinkeliai administration building at Mindaugo st. No. 12/14. The exposition showcased the politicized history of the railways, paying tribute to the Soviet period. The museum changed its name many times because then the railways were controlled by the central ministry in Moscow.
The museum hosted a variety of cultural events and welcomed important guests. In 1979, the museum received a then-famous title of the Folk Museum. In 1985, it was named after its founder and long-time manager Georgijus Žemaitis. The museum was called the Georgijus Žemaitis Folk Museum of Lithuanian Railways. In 1998, the museum was moved to new premises at Mindaugo st. No. 15. The museum’s exhibition has expanded, with exhibits arranged according to historical railway development periods.
The museum is located on the second floor of Vilnius Railway Station and is situated across three halls: information (exhibitions), cultural (exhibitions and events) and educational (models). Almost 900 exhibits are showcased around according to specific themes: travel, communications, road construction, rolling stock, railway signaling, builders and workers. Visitors can interactively explore some of the exhibits.
The beginning of the exposition introduces visitors to the history of railway stations. Pictures of the first railway stations in Lithuania are exhibited, as well as authentic rail travel attributes: suitcases loaded on authentic shelves of the diesel train D1, signs of luggage carriers who used to work at stations, utensils from various periods of passenger cars, old ticket safe and other exhibits.