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5/12/2011
Lithuanian museums:
Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture

Location, Contact and Link

6500 S. Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60629
e-mail: info@balzekasmuseum.org
website: Balzekas Museum's own

Stanley Balzekas, Jr., and the Museum

The life-long dream of Stanley Balzekas, Jr., to preserve for posterity the wealth of material pertaining to Lithuania's history and culture was realized when he opened the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in a "two-flat" building next to his auto dealership on Archer Ave in Chicago on June 22, 1966. His personal collection of art, armor and rare maps was donated and placed on display. Still the president of the museum's board of directors, Stanley Balzekas has seen his museum grow to a major repository of publications, cultural artifacts, and arts not only of Lithuania, but also of the Lithuanian immigrants to the United States and the generations that followed them. The Museum quickly outgrew the available space on Archer Ave and moved to its present, greatly expanded facilities in 1986. With a substantial staff, many volunteers, and many hundreds of donors and members, the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture is a major player in the Lithuanian cultural life and scholarship in the United States.

Photos of the Museum


Expand the size of each image by clicking on the miniatures shown below.
entrance view library gift shop
entrance interior library gift shop

Museum's Departments

Main Exhibit
"Lithuania Through the Ages" - portrays the development of Lithuanian history and culture from prehistory to the present.

Fine Arts
Art exhibits by invited artists and a permanent collection of works by Lithuanian and Lithuanian-American artists. Danas Lapkus is the curator.

Research & Resource Center for East European Studies
The center is made up of a number of collections: the reference library contains over 40,000 volumes on history and culture of Lithuania and Eastern Europe; the collection of rare books and pamphlets contains publications from the 16th to the 19th century; the largest collection of archival manuscripts and periodicals outside of Lithuania; a collection of 10,000 files of pamphlets and records of historical and cultural documents; and more than 50,000 photos and thousands of recordings of Lithuanian music, musical scores and programs.

Immigration History and Lithuanian Americal Genealogy Society
The department, chaired by Jessie Daraska, started with the the work of Mildred Kletz on genealogy in 1984 and continues to expand in genealogical information on "Lithuanian Pioneers" and their descendents. It publishes a newsletter Genealogija, edited by Julie Daraska Balzekas, devoted to immigration history and genealogy. Lithuanian American Geneology Society, presided by Robert Balzekas, provides its members the basic information and guidance they need to trace their ancestors.

The Irene Balzekas Memorial Map Collection
A collection of more than 200 antiquarian, dating from 16th to the 19th centuries, and 700 modern maps of Lithuania and Eastern Europe and atlases.

Language Education
The department offers Lithuanian language classes and published the Lithuanian Language Cassette and Dialog Book.

Numismatic Collection
The Museum contains one of the best collections of Lithuanian coins, currency, tokens, medals, military orders, and decorations in the United States. Frank Passic is the numismatic curator at the Museum, the founder of the Lithuanian Numismatic Association, and the editor of the numismatic publication The Knight.

Folk Arts
Folk artist Ursule Astras is the director of folk art workshops and exhibits. There are annual Lithuanian Easter egg decoration and Christmas straw ornament construction workshops and exhibits. Demonstrations of traditional spinning and weaving have been presented by members of the Lithuanian Folk Arts Institute.

Women's Guild
The guild was organized by the late Irene Radvilas Balzekas in 1968. It raises funds and sponsors exhibits.

Edward Mankus Audio-Visual Room and Archives
A state-of-the-art audio-visual facility, directed by Edward Mankus, can seat 50 for slide, video and film presentations. It is also used for exhibits by prominent American and Lithuanian photographers.

Children's Museum of Immigrant History
Founded in 1982, this department through interactive exhibits and outreach efforts serves as a cultural and educational resource for schools and families.

Gift Shop
The gift shop offers a variety of gift items: amber jewelry, wood carvings, Christmas straw ornaments, decorated Easter eggs, dolls, costumes, music recordings, books, toys, greeting cards, linen textiles, Lithuanian flags, and much more.

collection   35 selected images of items in the museum's collection.