Lietuvos mokslo istorikų ir filosofų bendrija

The 29th Baltic Conference on the History of Science

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2021

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2020

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2019

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2018

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2017

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2016

The 29th Baltic Conference on the History of Science, Vilnius


Vilnius University, Museum of Geology (Lithuania)


Witnesses to University History: Collections at the Vilnius University Museum of Geology




There are many unique objects of scientific importance at the Vilnius University Museum of Geology. Exceptional among them is the collection of meteorites. It grips the attention of visitors of any age – schoolchildren or adults. This is natural, since not everyone can brag about seeing an analogue of the Earth’s core, something the same age as our planet. This is really a unique heritage that has come to us from outer space.


The concepts of historic and geologic time are explained by using the meteorites in our collection. The 90th anniversary of the fall of the Andrioniškis (Padvarninkai, Lithuania) meteorite is celebrated this year (2019). Even the word ‘anniversary’ helps our visitors better understand the difference between historic and geologic time. All of the facts that we provide about the history of our meteorites – like the year of their fall, their chemical composition and eyewitness stories – fall into the historic time framework. But the absolute age of some of the meteorites is the same as the age of the Earth (about 4.56 billion years). This latter fact helps us to explain the concept of geologic time. Meteorites are unique because each object embodies both historic and geologic time.


The Geology Museum stores witnesses from the various eras of Vilnius University’s 440 year long history. From the Jesuit era (1579–1773), we have collections presented to the university by the nobility. From the time of the Imperial University (1803–1832), we have the large mineralogy collection of Romanas Simonavičius (Roman Symonowicz, 1763–1813), head of the mineralogy department and the founder of mineralogy in Lithuania. After the closing of the university in 1832, the collections were transferred to the Vilnius Medical-Surgical Academy. After it closed in 1842, most of the rich mineralogy collections were distributed to other universities in the Russian Empire. Some of the collections remained in Vilnius and became part of the Vilnius Museum of Antiquities established by Eustachijus Tiškevičius (Eustachy Tyszkiewicz, 1814–1873) on 29 April 1855, and later part of the Natural History Museum established in the Vilnius Public Library (1867). The most famous survivor of all these moves was the Zabrodjė meteorite.


The most prominent witnesses of the interwar period and of the Kaunas Vytautas Magnus University are the Andrioniškis (Padvarninkai) and the Žemaitkiemis meteorites, which fell onto the territory of Lithuania. There are also holotypes of new fossils species that have been found and described by Česlovas Pakuckas (1898–1965) and Juozas Dalinkevičius (1893–1980).