The site

Located near the picturesque coast of Kaunas Lagoon, the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania is representative of the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Lithuanian people. Spanning over 195 hectares, this museum ranks among the largest ethnographic open-air museums in Europe, boasting a treasure trove of exhibits that offer a glimpse into the country's past.

Made to be an educational and cultural experience, the museum is designed to transport visitors in time to the 18th to 20th centuries, experiencing the modes of life, works, and traditions of Lithuanian peasants and townspeople across five ethnographic regions: Dzūkija, Aukštaitija, Suvalkija, Žemaitija, and Mažoji Lietuva. The museum's exhibits are meticulously designed to reflect the distinctive characteristics of each region, from the architecture to the household appliances, crafting techniques, and agricultural machinery.

The central part of the museum is its collection of century-old buildings nestled within a lush forest, authentically preserved and arranged to recreate the ambiance of traditional Lithuanian homesteads. Among these architectural gems is the Aristavėlė Manor House, a stately residence dating back to the 18th century. The museum's small-town area further enriches the visitor experience, featuring a bustling market square, a church, an inn, and houses of various traders and craftsmen practicing pottery, weaving, amber, and wood crafting.

However, the museum also confronts the darker chapters of Lithuanian history with its Deportation and Resistance Sector. Here, visitors are reminded of the tragic period of Soviet occupation, during which thousands of Lithuanians were deported to Siberia. The sector includes poignant exhibits such as a pit-house, reminiscent of those found in Siberia, a train wagon used for deportations, and a memorial monument – solemn tribute to the resilience and endurance of the Lithuanian people.

Beyond its historical significance, the museum offers a scenic retreat, with flower gardens, orchards, and vegetable gardens adorning the landscape. Visitors can embark on a leisurely seven-kilometre-long circular route, winding through forests, meadows, and hills, immersing themselves in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Committed to preserving and promoting Lithuanian folk traditions, the museum hosts guided tours, educational programs, calendar festivals, and folk group concerts. Through these initiatives, the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania continues to safeguard the cultural heritage of the country, ensuring that future generations can connect with their ancestral past and appreciate the enduring legacy of the Lithuanian people.


The training course

The European Heritage Training Course at the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania will offer the participants a unique opportunity to engage with traditional craft techniques and vernacular architecture of 18th to 20th centuries in Lithuania.

During the course, the participants will engage in hands-on activities aimed at conserving and raising awareness about Lithuania's traditional lifestyle as presented in the museum. They will work closely with experienced cultural heritage specialists from the museum to learn and practice traditional craft techniques that are in danger of fading away in contemporary Lithuania.

The training course will include two tasks, on one hand the conservation interventions at traditional wooden pavilions and on the other hand the construction of various types of traditional fences using age-old techniques. Therefore, the participants will work in two groups. The groups will work in a rotation system so that every participant can undertake both types of work.

The participants will work at two historic pavilions as they could be found in the 19th and early 20th centuries in Lithuania, mostly in parks and gardens surrounding manor houses.

One of the pavilions is of hexagonal shape; there the participants will have the opportunity to learn and carry out all steps of its conservation: First, the roof will be dismantled, then the wooden structure will be examined concerning possible damages, afterwards the needed repairs and replacements at the wooden structure will be undertaken and finally the roof will be covered again with wooden shingles.

In addition, the participants will finalise the works at a pavilion of rectangular shape which have been started during the training course in 2023. By adding the last covering to the roof with shingles, they will be employing specific techniques commonly found in the Dzūkija ethnographic region of Southeast Lithuania. Guided by experts, they will learn the intricacies of shingle manufacturing, shingle placement, and roofing.

Additionally, participants will explore the construction of traditional wooden fences – trademark of vernacular architecture in Lithuanian villages. These fences not only served practical purposes but also added to the aesthetic appeal of homesteads, embodying a sense of cosiness and orderliness. Despite their prevalence in rural settlements and landscapes, traditional fences are increasingly disappearing due to the labour-intensive nature of their construction, requiring ongoing maintenance and repairs. Moreover, the knowledge of material preparation and construction techniques is gradually fading away, contributing to their decline. Therefore, the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania sees it as one of its tasks to preserve the knowledge about manufacturing traditional fences and presents in the museum eight different types of fences historically used in different regions of Lithuania and for different purposes.

During the training course, an overview about the various kinds of fences will be provided and different types of fences will be constructed. These activities will include both preparing of the wooden elements prior to be used in the construction of the fences as well as assembling the pieces at their final positions.

The active engagement of young heritage professionals from diverse backgrounds in traditional handicrafts works at the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania underlines the importance of preserving the country's vernacular architecture and cultural heritage. In an era where traditional knowledge faces the threat of extinction, the hands-on involvement of engaged young participants assumes profound significance.

In addition to the work, the participants will have the opportunity to interact with the tangible and the intangible heritage being showcased at the open-air museum through special guided tours. The participants will have a unique experience also behind closed doors of the work being carried out at the open-air museum while in addition enjoying guided visits and excursions to other vernacular heritage sites in the region.


The training course will take place from August 4th to August 17th, 2024, and is organised by the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania in cooperation with European Heritage Volunteers.             

European Heritage Volunteers