Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago

What did Vilnius look like 200 years ago? We still see the echoes of the past today, but most of Vilnius from that period is lost. In celebration of the city’s 700th anniversary, the Lithuanian National Museum’s Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago project provides an opportunity to see Vilnius in the past using modern technologies.

The project presents the Lithuanian capital of the last quarter of the 18th century and the second half of the 19th century. The story of its inhabitants evokes history and invites you to get to know the old city directly. In 2023, residents of Vilnius and guests to the city will visit the specially designed pavilion and see a unique model of the Old Town. The interactive model will allow you to see the changes in the city’s topography and buildings, as well as its demographic, social and cultural development. Discover the story bank in Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago.

Interactive model of the pavilion – Vilnius 200 years ago

The idea to present the city with Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago as a gift for its anniversary arose after the Lithuanian National Museum’s museologists acquired a 19th-century map of the city and the images of all its buildings. This is an irreplaceable archive from Moscow and St. Petersburg, which provides a very detailed picture of Vilnius 200 years ago. Until now, it was possible to rely only on drawings and 19th-century photographs.

However, the past had to be reconstructed from fragments – photographers captured reality, but they chose exceptional places, moments and events. It isn’t easy to form a true picture of everyday life from those photographs alone. The model of the city will restore old Vilnius in great detail, so it will be possible to analyse its development and changes. Residents of Vilnius and guests to the city can carefully study what their favourite places, Old Town streets and tourist attractions looked like a couple of hundred years ago. Exhibits and previously untold thematic stories about the city and life back in the day will allow you to look at Vilnius through the eyes of its past inhabitants.

In search of a lost Vilnius

The pavilion will present a period of Vilnius’ history when major changes took place, including the division of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian occupation and subsequent uprisings and deportations, and Vilnius becoming part of Poland. However, though all these changes, the daily lives of the townspeople continued.

The interactive project will turn the clock 200 years back in time. It will allow visitors to discover how houses changed owners, who inhabited different quarters of the city, which buildings have survived to this day, who visited which prayer house, where the city’s elite and cultural figures lived, which buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries were occupied and confiscated by the Russian administration, and the locations of defensive structures. Using modern technologies – lighting, sound, projections and augmented reality – the pavilion will help restore the connection of Vilnius’ residents with the historical city by taking a closer look at the history of the inhabitants themselves.

Dialogue between the past and present

The model created for Vilnius’ 700th anniversary will allow the city to talk to its citizens. It will invite contemporary residents to communicate to the residents of the past, regardless of the time difference. The Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago project will, for the first time, allow for a thorough restoration of the city that has been lost for 200 years.

To befriend a city, you first need to get to know it. Therefore, the model supplemented with modern technologies connects the past and the present and builds a bridge to the future. The lost Vilnius of the past will acquire a body in the pavilion – it is a unique and historically accurate 18th-19th-century reconstruction. Travelling two centuries in one moment, walking the streets of a lost city and seeing the images change before your eyes is a unique opportunity that will be available in 2023.

An exclusive long-term gift for the city

In celebrating of Vilnius’ 700th anniversary, the pavilion model exhibition will take place in a temporary building in front of the New Arsenal of the Lithuanian National Museum from May to September 2023. Discussions, lectures and creative workshops will also help audiences get to know Vilnius of the 18th-19th centuries better. It’s a great opportunity to discover the city’s past on your own while looking at places or listening to stories that you’re interested in. Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago is an exceptional opportunity for students to get acquainted with the history of the city. The project also involves ethnic minorities, allowing them to learn about the role and importance of their communities in the context of Vilnius’ history.

Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago was born from careful research by historians and art historians of the Lithuanian National Museum. However, even during its creation phase, residents of Vilnius won’t be passive observers – when creating the pavilion, people will be invited to discuss the past, present and future of Vilnius. The project will be open to residents and tourists alike – historical content will be presented in Lithuanian, English and Russian. Follow the creation of Pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago, join the discussions and see the interactive layout in the summer of 2023.

Follow the progress of the project at

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