National Historical Museum of the Republic of Belarus

Permanent Exhibitions

«Ancient Belarus»

Museum display «Ancient Belarus» covers the period of Belarusian history from the Neolithic age until 19th century. It tells about original peopling of our country, emergence of the tribal alliances of Krivichs and Dregovichs, emergence of the first state formations within the territory of Belarus, creation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Belarus as part of the Russian Empire.

Exhibits tell about first settlements of humans in our lands, their occupations, beliefs, and gradual civilisation development. Invaluable historical artefacts are among them: 1st century AD wooden plough, prehistoric art objects and decorations, 12th-c. and 13th-c. chess pieces, arms, armour etc. Certain section covers history of 16th-19th centuries’ book industry in Belarus, as well as activities of enlightener Francysk Skaryna.

«Ancient Belarus» opened in 1993.

Idea by Yauhen Vasilyeu, Iryna Masko, and Viktar Rabkou.

Design by Piatro Drachou.

«16th-18th centuries Belarus in portraits and heraldry»

The long-term display covers one of the most difficult and controversial periods in the history of Belarus – the period of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth mid-16th-late-18th centuries. It deals with the upper classes of our country’s society – magnates and szlachta (gentry or nobility), helping to understand their role in creation, development, and decline of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The exhibits present culture of the szlachta’s court and magnates’ palace.

The room is subdivided into two parts, one of them housing distinctive Zawiszas’ gallery, a part of the Radziwills’ gallery, as well as collections of weapons, glass, and porcelain. The second part displays portraits of Radziwills, as well as images of kings and renowned statesmen, clergy, and szlachta including Konstanty Ostrogski, Stephen Báthory, Lew Sapieha, Georgy Konissky, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, and others. Collections of numismatics and sphragistics are also on display here.

As a matter of fact, portrayed persons and contemporary residents of Belarus are compatriots, but in different temporal and geopolitical space. The visitors come face to face with the personalities who took part centuries ago in creating cultural, spiritual, and public image of a country, contemporary Belarus descended from.

Displayed items from the collection of weapons emphasize courageous features of persons in the «Sarmatian portraits». These are rare patterns of cold steel arms and firearms. Items made of valuable porcelain, refined wine glasses and flutes made of glass give reason to talk about development of luxury manufactory system.

One can see a displayed 18th century lady’s costume of a wealthy townswoman of Viciebsk, made of contemporary materials, but containing fragments of original 18th century textiles (by costume designer Yury Piskun). Moreover, visitors have an opportunity to give credit to the contemporary coat of arms reconstruction mastery based upon antique books of heraldry (works by Andrey Leuchyk).

The long-term display project «16th-18th centuries historical portrait of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania» is being carried out by the Museum since 2002. The first exhibition of the project took place during 2002-2004, and bore the same name as the project itself. With reference to the first exhibition, the second one called «History of 16th-18th centuries Belarus in portraits and heraldry» was opened in 2008. This time, display is based upon the own collections of the National Historical Museum of the Republic of Belarus entirely. Heraldic part of the exhibition is a reconstruction of the «Ancient heraldry of Belarus» exhibition, which was displayed in the museum in 1997-2006. Basic and dominant part of the exhibition is the portraiture. All the museum exhibits: paintings, costumes, weapons, documents, books, small statuary, and luxury items are of high historical and artistic value.

Idea by Iryna Zvaryka, leading researcher.

Design by Uladzimir Hladkou.

«Belarus: the Revival of Spirituality»

The long-term display introduces the history of the emergence and functioning of religions in Belarus.

Along with the National Historical Museum in this project participate other Belarusian museums: the Grodno State Museum of the History of Religion, the Grodno State Historical and Archaeological Museum, the National Polotsk Historical and Cultural Museum–Reserve, the Gomel Palace and Park Ensemble. The status of the international exhibition is acquired through the participation in it of the State Historical Museum of Moscow, which represents a unique monument of book publishing – the Prague edition of the Skaryna Bible of 1517.

Opens the exposition section devoted to paganism – the traditional religion of ancient tribes in the country. The largest section of the exhibition introduces the main religions – Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, which coexist peacefully in Belarus. For this purpose, the collections of the National Historical Museum and other museums, as well as private collections have been used: collections of archeology, icons, paintings, national costume, manuscript and early printed books, precious metals, etc. The final section is devoted to the book culture and activities of the Belarusian educator–humanist Francis Skaryna.

In total, the exhibition includes over 400 historical and cultural monuments, many of them are exhibited for the first time: the seal of Euphrosyne of Polotsk in the 12th century, the murals of the Transfiguration Church of the Spassky Monastery in Polotsk in the 19th century, a unique collection of silver cedar glasses, altar catholic paintings etc.

«Belarus: the Revival of Spirituality» opened in September 2017.

Idea by Nina Kalymaha. Design by Tamara Holubeva