Žemaičių muziejus alka, Žemaitijos kaimo muziejus, telšių ješiva, varnių muziejus, žemaičių vyskupystės muziejus


The Samogitian Museum "Alka" was officially established on 16 February 1932.

However, the idea of having a museum in Telšiai had been in the making for a decade before that. In a letter of 29 December 1923 from the Telšiai education staff to the Department of Primary Education of the Lithuanian Ministry of Education, it was argued that "(...) We have found it necessary to establish a Telšiai museum as soon as possible, because the teachers of the primary school and people in general have a great number of good objects suitable for the museum, which could perish in the opposite situation and then cause a lot of damage to the region itself...". Thanks to the efforts of the teacher J. Gedminas, about 400 exhibits have been collected in the local history corner established at the Telšiai Teachers' Seminary. In 1930 the seminary was moved (together with the museum) to Plungė. On 24 January 1931, a meeting was held in Telšiai, during which the Samogitian Antiquity Lovers' Society "Alka" was founded, and Pranas Genys, one of the most active initiators of the museum's foundation, was elected chairman. The main objective of the Society is to establish a museum. Thanks to the efforts of the Society's board members Eugenijus Šalkauskas, Kazis Sideravičius, Pranas Genys, Mykolas Barkus, Robertas Pukinskas and other enthusiasts, the museum opened its doors in three rented rooms of the house at 31 Birutės St., on 16 February 1932.
The first director of the museum, Pranas Genys, in 1942, recalling the beginning of the museum's activity, wrote: "(...) the exhibits I had arranged in three rooms, and there were only a few goddesses, a few small coins, a few paintings, a few crumbs of archaeology etc. However, the museum already made a good impression on the public, who called the new institution by the honourable name of 'museum', and this, of course, encouraged the museum staff to work. The museum also took over the exhibits of the Teachers' Seminary's local history corner.

In October 1932, the museum moved to better premises - to Didžioji (now Republic) Street, where it rented 4 rooms in the brick house of Pranas Girdvainis. 12 October 1933. In 1935, the treasures stored in Telšiai had already attracted the attention of scientists and folk art researchers. Some of the exhibits in the Samogitian Museum were exhibited at an art exhibition in Paris that year.
Preparations began for the construction of a museum building in Telšiai. There were no funds available for such works, so in 1933 a levy was started throughout Samogitia. Money and building materials were donated to the museum not only by the municipalities of the districts and provinces, but also by individuals living not only in Samogitia and Lithuania, but also abroad. The Ministry of Education of Lithuania and the Government of Lithuania also supported the construction works with funds.
On 4 October 1936, on the western shore of Lake Mascis, on the Žaliasis Hill, the cornerstone of the museum building was consecrated. The museum was built according to a project designed by the Telšiai county engineer Steponas Stulginskis.

On 1 December 1937, the Museum moved into several rooms of its own building. Construction and decoration work continued in other parts of the building until 1941. Part of the project for the Samogitian Museum, designed by S. Stulginskis, could not be realised, but more work was done before the war than anywhere else - at that time it was the only new museum building to be erected in a Lithuanian province.

In the pre-war years, the Samogitian Museum "Alka" became a well-known cultural centre not only in Samogitius, but also throughout Lithuania. It remained such a centre during the war.

In 1938, the museum hosted the first exhibition of works by Samogitian artists. Another exhibition was opened on 7 November 1943.

In the beginning of September 1938, an exhibition of Samogitian agriculture and industry was held on the territory of the museum.

From 1938 to 1940, this museum hosted exhibitions on the history and art of Lithuania Minor.

On 6 May 1940, the museum hosted the first Lithuanian philatelic exhibition.

On 7 May 1944, an exhibition of graphic works opens at the museum.

In addition to the aforementioned members of the museum's board, the construction of the museum's palace and the accumulation of the exhibits were also made by the Telšiai residents J. Mikulskis, P. Gaidamavičius, and the Samogitian ethnographer and ethnophotographer Ignas Končius, who, in 1935, led the museum's staff on an expedition to the village of Drobukščiai.

The Museum's collections were enlarged most in the summer of 1940, when the new Lithuanian government adopted the Law on the Protection of Cultural Monuments. At that time, a large number of valuables were brought to the Museum from the estates of the Tiškevičius, the Oginskis, the Pliateris, the Šuazelis, and the Gorskis, which had been nationalised in Samogitia, and these items still form the Museum's golden collection. These are mainly documents, paintings, sculptures, furniture and books. However, not all of the objects of lasting value that were present in these manors at the time made it into the museum. Some of the rather precious items were simply looted or destroyed by the local population and the military stationed there.
After the Germans occupied Samogitia, the museum continued to operate, although it did not exhibit the most valuable objects at that time. Thanks to the care of the museum's director, P. Genis, during the war, the greatest treasures were hidden away in a hiding place in the museum itself, with the help of acquaintances who lived in the villages and trustworthy peasants. After the war, it was all returned. Only a small part of the exhibits were damaged or decayed due to inadequate storage conditions.

In 1945, Butkus Juzė took over the management of the museum in place of Pranas Genis, who had been expelled from his job and was unacceptable to the Soviet authorities.

In 1948-1988 the Samogitian Museum "Alka" was officially known as the Telšiai Museum of Regional History.

In 1967, the museum started to establish branches. The first one was opened in 1967 in Žemaitė's birthplace in Bukantė. In the same year, a 15 hectare plot of land on the outskirts of Telšiai was set aside for the museum's household section (the open-air Museum of Žemaitija Folk Households). In 1982, the Samogitian Village Exposition was opened. For some time, the Alka Museum was also responsible for the Mažeikiai Museum of Regional History, the Šatrija Witch and Lazdynai Owl Memorial Museums, the folk art exposition in the Plungė bell tower, and the Žemaitės Memorial Exposition in Džiuginėnai, as well as a few other museums. The structure of the museum covered a large part of the territory of Samogitia.

In 1988, Lithuania decentralised its museums. After that, many branches became independent museums.

On 30 October 1988, the museum regained its old name of the Samogitian Museum "Alka".
In 1994, due to the lack of space for storing exhibits and expositions, the construction of an extension to the museum was started (the architect of the extension - Algirdas Žebrauskas). A few years later (in 1998), the reconstruction of the old building was started, which was completed in 2002, and in 2012 the reconstruction of the Žemaitija village exhibition buildings was completed.