Музей кнігі Нацыянальнай бібліятэкі Беларусі. Фота са старонкі «Беларусь бібліятэчная»
Book Museum of the National Library of Belarus. Photo from «The Belarus Library» page
Ноч музеяў у Нацыянальным мастацкім музеі Беларусі. Мінск. Фота А. Манчук. БЕЛТА
Museum Night at the National Art Museum of Belarus. Minsk. Photo by O. Manchuk. BELTA
У музеі-сядзібе Ільі Рэпіна "Здраўнёва". Фота А. Хітрова. БЕЛТА
In the museum-estate of I. Repin "Zdravnevo". Photo by A. Khitrov. BELTA
Нацыянальны гістарычны музей Беларусі. Мінск. Фота М. Пятрова. БЕЛТА
National Historical Museum of Belarus. Minsk. Photo by N. Petrov. BELTA
Музей старажытнабеларускай культуры. Мінск. Фота Н. Аблажэй. БЕЛТА
Museum of ancient Belarusian culture. Minsk. Photo by N. Ablozhey. BELTA
Музей беларускага кнігадрукавання. Полацк. Фота А. Хітрова. БЕЛТА
Museum of Belarusian printing. Polotsk. Photo by A. Khitrov. BELTA
Museums in Belarus
The development of museums in Belarus closely coincides with world tendencies. Early museum collections were created in big feudal residences, monasteries, brotherhoods and temples. The collections of the Radzivills and the Sapiehas, the most influential noble families of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, were the largest private museum collections in the territory of Belarus in the 16th–18th centuries. At the turn of the 18th–19th centuries institutions of museum type appeared mostly in high and secondary schools in Polotsk, Grodno, Gorki and other towns. First public museum in the territory of North-West edge of the Russian Empire, which included the territory of Belarus, was opened in Vilna in 1856. The main collections in Vilna Museum of Antiquities reflected Belarusian material and spiritual culture. In the late 19th – early 20th centuries church and archaeology museums were opened in Vitebsk, Mogilev and Minsk.
After establishment of the BSSR in the 1919 measures on museum activities revival were taken. In 1920s and 1st half of the 1930s a wide network of museums in which significant historical and cultural values were stored, was created. In Mogilev local lore museum the cross of Euphrosyne of Polotsk, the most important national relic, was kept.
The World War II caused irreparable damage to museum activity in Belarus. During the war the majority of museums were looted by the Nazi invaders, a lot of historical and cultural values were destroyed. Some values were sent away from the frontline, but their safety during the war wasn’t ensured.
After the liberation of Belarus in 1944 the work on collection and systematization of remained museum values and on renewal of the museum network was started. In 1970 there were 48 state museums, in 1985 – 98, in 2002 – 135. Now within the system of the Ministry of Culture there are 150 state museums. The museum collection of the republic counts over 3 million of major collection items.
The National Historical Museum of the Republic of Belarus is the leading museum of historic profile in the country. Its history since began of the beginning of the 20th century, when the first city museums were created in the provincial Minsk. In 2009, the museum received its actual name. This is the biggest Belarusian museum by the number of exhibits, the centuries-old history of the country is presented there, from prehistoric age till our days. Its collection counts over 400,000 exhibits, divided into different sections (archaeological, numismatic and fine arts, icon painting, ceramics, book printing, etc. collections) Affiliated museums are also popular: Muzej istorii teatral'noj i muzy'kal'noj kul'tury' (Museum of the History of Theatrical and Musical Culture), Muzej prirody' i e'kologii (Museum of Nature and Ecology), Muzej istorii belorusskogo kino (Museum of History of the Belarusian Cinema).
Belorusskij gosudarstvenny'j muzej istorii Velikoj Otechestvennoj vojny' (The Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War History) was created after liberation of Minsk from the Nazi invaders on October 22, 1944. It has a rich collection of military relics counting over 140,000 items. Valuable evidences of the Second World War period attract a lot of researchers from Belarus and the near and far abroad to the museum. In 2014, the museum moved to a specially constructed new building near the obelisk "Hero City".
The Memorial Complex "Brest Hero Fortress" is one of the landmark places of Belarus, symbol of Soviet resistance during the World War II. It also includes the Museum of Defense of the Brest Fortress and the "The 5th Fort Museum". On June 22, 2014, in the southeastern barracks of the Brest Fortress citadel, a new exposition "Museum of War, Territory of Peace" has opened.
Evidence of the martyrdom of the Belarusian people, who lost every third of their inhabitants during the war years, is the Khatyn State Memorial Complex (1969) with a new museum exposition opened in 2023. The Memorial Complex was created on the site of one of more than 9 thousand villages destroyed along with the inhabitants. Information about them is collected in the database "Belorusskie derevni, sozhzhyonnye v gody Velikoj Otechestvennoj vojny" ("Belarusian villages burned during the Great Patriotic War").
Among art museums the exceptional place belongs to the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. It counts a big collection of Belarusian and foreign fine arts (about 30,000 items), about 20,000 of which refer to Belarusian art. Art collections and some other museums in the country are also attractive: the Mogilev Regional Arts Museum named after P. Maslenikov, Art Museum in Vitebsk, Art Gallery G. Vashchenko in Gomel, V.K. Byalynitski-Birulia Art Museum in Byelynichi, Brest Museum "Saved artistic treasures", etc. Priceless treasures are kept in the Museum of Old Belarusian Culture of the Center for Belarusian Culture, Language and Literature Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.
Museum-reserves occupy a significant place among original museums: Polotsk National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve, Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve “Zaslavl”, Gomel Palace and Park Ensemble. In 2005 the National Historical and Cultural Museum-reserve “Niasvizh” was entered into the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Another unique monument of the national culture of Belarus, the Mir Castle Complex, was included in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List in 2000.
Visitors pay great attention to ethnographic museums: Belarusian State Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Lifestyle (near Minsk); Vetkovskij muzej staroobryadchestva i belorusskix tradicij im. F.G. Shklyarova (Shklyarov Museum of Old Belief and Belarusian Traditions in Vetka) created in 1978 in the Gomel region on the basis of the personal collection of Fyodor Shklyarov, a native of the local Old Believer clan, amateur artist and collector of antiquity; Museum Complex "Dudutki", where visitors can not only enjoy exposition on Belarusian history but at the same time have a good rest.
The literary heritage of the country is represented by Gosudarstvenny'j muzej istorii belorusskoj literatury' (the State Museum of the History of Belarusian Literature) and its branches: Gosudarstvenny'j literaturny'j muzej Yanki Kupaly' (Yanka Kupala State Literary Museum), Gosudarstvenny'j literaturno-memorial'ny'j muzej Yakuba Kolasa (Yakub Kolas Memorial Literary Museum), Museum of the Belarusian Book Printing in Polotsk, Museum of the Book at the National Library of Belarus.
The local history museums of various regions of the country are interesting for domestic and foreign visitors: the Brest Regional Local History Museum, the Vitebsk Regional Local History Museum, the Mogilev Regional Local History Museum named after E.R. Romanov, Minsk Regional Local History Museum, Hrodna State Historical and Archaeological Museum, etc.
Museums in Belarus are cultural centers of each region of the republic, treasuries of historical and cultural values.
Useful linksGosudarstvenny`j katalog Muzejnogo fonda Respubliki Belarus` (State Catalogue of the Museum Fund of the Republic of Belarus)
State Register of Museums of the Republic of Belarus
The Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War History
Khatyn State Memorial Complex
Memorial Complex “Brest Hero Fortress”
The Minsk City History Museum
Museum of History of the Belarusian Cinema
Muzej istorii teatral'noj i muzy'kal'noj kul'tury' (Museum of the History of Theatrical and Musical Culture)
Muzej-usad'ba M.K. Oginskogo (M. Oginsky Museum-Country Estate)
National Historical Museum of the Republic of Belarus
Xudozhestvenny'j muzej v Vitebske (Art Museum in Vitebsk)
V.K. Byalynitski-Birulia Art Museum in Byelynichi
Belarusian State Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Lifestyle
Vetkovskij muzej staroobryadchestva i belorusskix tradicij im. F.G. Shklyarova
(Shklyarov Museum of Old Belief and Belarusian Traditions in Vetka)
Museums-reserves, castle complexes
National Historical and Cultural Museum-reserve “Niasvizh”
Polotsk National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve
The Mir Castle Complex
Lida Historical and Art Museum
Museum of local history
Brestskij oblastnoj kraevedcheskij muzej (Brest Regional Local History Museum)
Vitebskij oblastnoj kraevedcheskij muzej (Vitebsk Regional Local History Museum)
Gomel Palace and Park Ensemble
Grodno State Historical and Archaeological Museum
Minsk regional local history museum, Molodechno
Mogilev Regional Local History Museum named after E. Romanov
Gosudarstvenny'j literaturny'j muzej Yanki Kupaly' (Yanka Kupala State Literary Museum)
Gosudarstvenny'j muzej istorii belorusskoj literatury' (State Museum of the History of Belarusian Literature)
Literaturny'j muzej Maksima Bogdanovicha (Maxim Bogdanovich Literary Museum)
Museum of the Belarusian Book Printing in Polotsk
Zair Azgur Memorial Museum and Workshop
Marc Chagall Museum in Vitebsk