Devil Museum, Kaunas
An extremely unusual, if not unique museum in Kaunas
. I doubt that any other place on Earth has as many different depictions of the Devil. It's more an art collection than a truly authentic dark site, but still, a must-see when in Kaunas for sure.
>More background info
>What there is to see
>Access and costs
>Combinations with other dark destinations
>Combinations with non-dark destinations
More background info: The Devil Museum, or Velnių Muziejus in Lithuanian (sometimes also Devils or Devil's Museum in English) is effectively the work of one Lithuanian artist, Antanas Žmuidzinavičius (1876-1966), who clearly must have been some sort of eccentric. In addition to pursuing his own art he assembled a collection of thousands of statuettes and images of the devil that now form the mainstay of this bizarre museum. The building is modern and appears almost purpose-built, though I can't vouch for that.
You can also visit the artist's former flat in the older apartment building next door, preserved in its original state, apparently. However, it is far less eccentric than his devils collection. He also collected art other than devils, and much of these collections are spread over a variety of other museums.
The collection of devils has continued to be expanded since the death of the original artist. Allegedly people from around the world still send more devils to be added to the displays to this day.
What there is to see: Devils, devils and more devils … or rather THE devil in a myriad of different depictions. The collection is spread over three floors, each with a pretty sizeable exhibition room.
Even before you go in, you are greeted by cheery devil silhouettes on the windows, even the doors to the toilets are marked by a little devil (gents) and a witch (ladies).
Some parts of the display seem to follow thematic groupings, though I couldn't make out any overarching systematicity in the arrangements of the thousands of little devils (and some not quite so little).
The majority are figurines, but there are also full-size face masks (of some ethnic provenance, by the look of them). Many are ensembles, featuring goats or other associated animals, witches and of course various human victims of the devil's evil spirit and deeds.
Themes in the latter vein include alcohol (whose evil effects are assigned to the devil rather than the imbibers), tobacco, but also money-grubbing practices – surely a popular winner of hearts in these days of continued/prolonged financial crisis created by the financial professions themselves.
And obviously there is also the sexual theme – the devil as a seducer, especially of pretty virgins, often in deliberately erotic depictions.
Many display cabinets come with bilingual descriptions or background stories; the English translations are OK, if not exactly word perfect.
It may all revolve around familiar clichés, but that does in no way detract from the overall impression. And that is mostly one of fiendish fun! The exhibition is indeed so unusual, so different, and so full of entertaining details that it is primarily great fun, even if (or especially if) you don't actually believe in the existence of a devil ...
So even though it is by no means a major
dark-tourism site, it is still not to be missed when visiting these parts! If you only have time for one of the many unusual little speciality museums in Kaunas
, make it this one.
very near the city centre of Kaunas
, just behind the War Museum
at 64, V. Putvinskio gatvė
Access and costs: quite easy to get to, cheap.
when you've found the big War Museum
, then you are close to the Devil Museum too, just proceed along the path to the west of the museum or up one of the parallel streets, it's just two blocks north of Laisvės Alėja, the pedestrianized main city centre street, so from anywhere around this it is easily walkable. From the Old Town the walk will take about 20 minutes.
Opening times: Tuesdays to Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (some sources say Thursdays to 7 p.m. – although the sign at the museum itself did not state this).
Admission: 2-3 EUR (I still paid 6 litas in 2014), half price for schoolchildren, students and senior citizens; free for art students, disabled persons – and for all EU citizens on Wednesdays.
Time required: depending on how deep into the topic you are prepared to go between 20 minutes and an hour – I stayed for about half an hour.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
in general see under Kaunas
– the War Museum
just around the corner is the most obvious choice for location alone.
Combinations with non-dark destinations: if you head down Putvinskio gatvė in an easterly direction you will soon come to the funicular (or steps) up the hill to one of the most striking sights of Kaunas, the brilliantly white Christ's Resurrection Church overlooking the entire city.
For more see under Kaunas
- devils museum 1 - entrance
- devils museum 2 - inside
- devils museum 3 - devil masks
- devils museum 4 - taking the goat by the horns
- devils museum 5 - the demon alcohol
- devils museum 6 - smoking is the work of the devil too
- devils museum 7 - and business as well, apparently
- devils museum 8 - gothic-erotic
- devils museum 9 - caged