History of the Clock Museum

Clock Museum (Klaipeda) – the branch of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art.
Klaipeda Clocks Museum was opened 27 July 1984. The history of the building comes back to the 19th century. Klaipeda traders started to build their residences in the outskirts at that time. They stretched up to the Danė River, some kind of industry on the shore of it were developed. The plots were planted with various rare trees, some of which still remain. Greek walnuts and Chinese maples are worth mentioning. The building was renovated a lot of times and the function of it changed. A beginning of 20thcentury there was the Earth Bank. In soviet times, there was Pioneer house.
The idea of establishing Clock and Watch Museum was born not accidentally. The first exhibition of ancient clocks and watches was opened Klaipeda Art Gallery in 1977. It was formed with the help of Vytautas Jakelaitis, Dionyzas Varkalis and other Klaipeda collectors. The exhibition interested the citizens of Klaipeda and the guests very much. In 1979 the Clock and Watch Museum was established on the on initiative of Pranas Gudynas and Romualdas Budrys, the leaders of Lithuanian Art Museum. It became the branch of Lithuanian Art Museum. Designer Romualdas Martinkus has been the head of that Museum since that time.
The exhibition was supplemented and completed by clocks and watches from Art Museum. The clocks and watches of the end of the 19th, the beginning of the 20th century made the basic part of the exhibition.
After the establishment of the branch of the Clock and Watch, an intensive scientific research and the search of literature about the history of clocks and watches was begun. It was a hard task, as almost all the literature was in foreign languages. Contributor Roza Sikšnienė did a lot of work in this sphere. Historical facts about clocks and watches were collected systematically from different obtained publication. They were compared and checked. Thus a chronological card index of clocks and watches history was formed. It helped to see possible ways of establishing the Clock and Watch Museum. There were several of them. It was necessary to show clocks and watches according to the principle of time measuring (water, sand and fire clocks, which worked by continuous principle, sundials, mechanical clock, etc., worked by periodical principle) or to choose another way, to show the origin of clocks and watches in historical development: when and how separate kinds and forms of clocks and watches constructions were formed. The latter way was chosen. It gave wider more distinct possibilities to arrange the exposition. Candidate of physics- mathematics Ona Kubiliūnienė finally amended the information about the types of constructions. She has prepared a scientific work ‘The development of time measurement devices’. Petras Šmitas an art researcher of art analysed the changes of shapes of clocks and watches in the course of epochs.
Works of establishment of Clock and Watch Museum were performed alongside with scientific research. The building, which was in 12 Maxim Gorky str. at that time, passed to the museum in 1980 by initiative of Alfonsas Žalys the then chairman of the city executive committee. Vaidotas Guogis, an architect, of Klaipeda institute of restoration and protection of monuments, started to prepare the project of building, which could suit the requirements of the Clock and Watch Museum. Designer Romualdas Martinkus made the main conception of the Museum design, Arvedas Kybrancas, an architect of Vilnius personal service centre ‘Dailė’ designed the furniture and its layout.
When the subject plan of the Museum was putting in details, it appeared the shortage of exhibits. In case to show the development of clocks and watches history, it was necessary to create the models of sun, water, fire, sand clocks and the details of mechanical clocks. According to the projects of designer Romualdas Martinkus, they were made by folk artists Česlovas Martinkus, Viktoras Ivanauskas, Konstantinas Stanius, Dionizas Varkalis, an artist Valdas Petravičius. Old clocks and watches were restored in restoration centre of the Art museum.
The history of the development of clocks and watches is exhibited in four halls of the first floor. Clocks and watches according to the styles and forms are exhibited in five halls of the second floor.
Each part of clocks and watches history is illustrated by the examples of the exhibits (fire clocks – wicks, fire clocks – candles, fire clocks – lamps of oil), engravings, schemes and explanatory texts. Romualdas Martinkus, Alvydas Klimas, graphic artist Petras Gaidamavicius are the authors of that material.
The history of the development of clocks and watches and the history of ancient calendars, when the day and night were not divided into hours are shown in two stands of the first floor. The Primitive Moon, Moon and Sun and Sun calendars are demonstrated. The models of primitive wooden Siberian peg and leather South American knotty calendars are represented there. The description of Sun calendars is supplemented by interesting original exhibits of calendars made by Lithuanian folk masters. Sundials are exhibited in five stands. They are shadow length and shadow direction vertical and horizontal, spherical and equatorial sundials. There were created models of Egyptian marble shadow length sundials and star clocks (nocturnal) of 3000 BC to reveal this theme. A kinetic stands in the centre of first floor, supplies the exposition of sundials. Sundials, which are lit up by a lamp, are exhibited on the turning round plane surface. The movement of a shadow, which falls from gnomons, grounds the work principle of these clocks.
The flowing out and flowing in, overflowing water clocks exposition of water clocks occupies the rest stands of the first hall. Water clocks with indirect time indication, water clocks – automatic machines are shown there. The water clocks had never been created in Lithuania before. There are not many left in the world. The models Greek stoneware and the models of Asian countries out flowing and European overflowing water clocks were created in order to show the construction of these clocks.
The fire and sand clocks are exhibited in the second hall. Fire clocks are shown in three stands: fire clocks – wicks, candles and oil lamps. The models wooden Chinese straight wick’s and brass helical wick’s fire clocks, candles of different types (simple and with sound indication), three types oil lamps were created, because such clocks did not remain in Lithuania. The original Chinese 19th century censer and two Chinese vases with the drawings of four seasons of the year are an interesting addition to the collection of exhibits. Corresponding vases could be used as the smell clocks.
Sand clocks, from old times until nowadays, are shown in two stands. Glass was used to make clocks. It is brittle material; thus, not many of them are left. The models of first sand clocks and sand clocks models, made from four glasses, and were created. According to the subject plan of the exposition there is foreseen to arrange a big sand clock, in the centre of a hall, designed by Romualdas Martinkus. It should be turned upside down, while opening the museum. Sand should fall all the day, until the museum is closed.
Mechanical clocks make the greatest collection in the Museum. The development of these clocks is shown very properly. There was no first mechanical time measuring devices with the verge escapements in the 12th – 14th centuries Lithuania. The model of such a construction was created to show that. Separate parts of mechanical clocks: engines – weights and watch-springs, regulators – pendulums and balances are exhibited there. The originals of mechanical clocks of the 13th – 20th century and the texts and schemes in the placards show the development of separate inventions and the development scientific works in detail. In the stands of balanced clocks, there are exhibited constructions of different experimental balance models. Working tower clock of Klaipeda old fire station, which was made in Berlin in 1856 is exhibited in the centre of a hall. There are two 14th century standing balance clocks, made in Lithuania stand near to it.
The newest mechanical, electromechanical, electromagnetic, electronic, quartz and quantum clocks united time measuring systems are presented in the fourth fall. We plan to put a clock showing the all time of all the time zones of the world in the centre of this hall. The exposition, arranged in this way, allows us to see and understand the kinds of devices used in time measuring and how long and difficult is the way of their development. The origin comes back to the oldest times of human history.
The clocks and watches are exhibited in the five halls on the first floor. They show the change of form cases from Renaissance to Modern Styles. The decoration of all styles reflects the development of applied – decorative art in general outline. The style of epoch is reflected not only by the design of clocks and watches, but also by specially selected works of applied – decorative and imitative art in each hall. Every hall, on the first floor, has a colorful background, characterize to the style of certain epoch. It is created by the color of the walls, curtains and materials of the stands. The style of epoch in each hall is featured by the furniture of that period.
Original clocks and watches of the 16th – 17th centuries are exhibited in the first hall. The cases of silver clock, made in 16th century, is the pride of the museum. It is considered, that this clock was made of Vilnius watchmaker guild and was presented as a gift to the manor of Žygimantas Augustas. The shape and decoration of this clock case reflects the characteristic features of Renaissance. The clocks and watches were made of a shape, resembling the buildings or towers. Hexagonal shape table clocks are exhibited separately. Theodor Tarasowig, clockmaker of Vilnius, made one of them in 17th century.
The baroque clocks and watches are shown in the other hall. The main part of this exposition consists of bracket clocks, long case clocks, wall and mantel clocks. You can be aquatinted with bracket clocks made by remarkable English masters Eardley Norton and William Rust. You can also see long case clock, made by Francis Wells. There is an interesting 18th century pendule made by Swiss Theodore Perret clock made in the technique of French master Charles Boulle.
The rococo style clocks and watches are shown in the third hall. The characteristic features of this style are asymmetrical, but having a proper balanced and rhythm form, rocaille (shells and rock work) and sophisticated light line design. The 18th century French mantel gild-bronze clock with the candlesticks is the exact example of that time. A German porcelain case clock astonishes by its lightness and elegance. Some collection of this period watches is exhibited in this hall.
Classicism revived the traditions of antique art. Moderated by decorated, symmetrical compositions were spread. Mainly two types of cases were made at that time: The compositions of different figures arranged on a rectangle base and clocks mounted in a Doric ‘porico’ – style cases. The mantel and table clocks made by French and German masters are exhibited in this hall. The collection of watches contains the examples of famous French master Abraham Louis Breguet.
The exposition ends with Eclectic and Modern clocks and watches, produced at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Wall and table clocks of serial produce by German firms ‘Gustav Becker’, ‘Junghans’ are shown in this hall. A big collection of watches represents the items made in different countries.
The clocks and watches are exhibited in the passages of the museum. The clock – marker is exhibited in the first floor. Such mechanisms were used at the end of 19th – the beginning of 20th centuries. In the future, it is going to be used to mark the souvenir tickets of the museum. A visitor will have possibility to move the lever of the clock and to leave his inscription about one’s visit to the museum. There is going to be modern Japanese electronic, performing similar functions clock near it. There is an interesting clock checking the time of the shift on duty. A person on duty had to check in the time with the special key at certain interval. A mechanism in the locked cupboard made the time reprints on a tape of the paper. It was to check the person was in the place of his work. The collection of wall balanced clocks of the 19th – 20th century is exhibited in the passage of the first floor.
There is an exhibition hall, which occupies 99 square meters in Clock and Watch Museum. The first exposition was dedicated for manufacturing of clocks and watches in the Soviet Union. Now there is an exhibition, dedicated to the tenth anniversary of Clock and Watch Museum. It was opened in June 1994. The collection of the clocks, of the 19th -20th century clocks, their details, various devices and mechanisms, used for manufacturing and repair make the basis of the exhibition.
There are 1709 units of basic fund and 12 554 units of auxiliary scientific material exhibited in the Museum.
A part of the 19th century park is still remained near the museum. According to the plan of subjects, it had to become a complex part of Clock and Watch Museum. The courtyard with working sundials was adjusted for the events of Museum and city. Architect Vaidotas Guogis and designer Romualdas Martinkus had prepared the architectural design of exhibition. In the centre of the yard according to the design, made by Romualdas Martinkus, vertical sundial showing the time of Klaipeda latitude was established in 1989. It is an original construction, made from rustle steel in the centre of a round fountain. The signs of stars are on the fountain sides. In 1991 the composition „The Sun Path Trough Constellation“, according to the designs of the artist of monumentality Lolita Sadauskaitė and designer Romualdas Martinkus was made. This composition is made in stylised technique of Florentic mosaic. In 1997, one more decorative monumental composition ‘Time and Klaipeda’ was made on the wall of the yard. This idea had been matured since the beginning of the Museum. The authors were artists Juozas Vosylius, Angelina Banytė and Romualdas Martinkus. This work of art occupies 62 square meters of wall. In the centre of it stands gnomon, made from rustle steel. The section lines and scale of hours extend from it. There are different time symbols, used in Lithuanian folk art around it. The accent of this composition is the figures of two angels, white and black, symbolizing the fight of goodness and evil, the change of light and dark, the time. The authentic sights of old Klaipeda, which sinking in water, or may be in time, that has neither beginning nor end, come to live again. On the pavement of courtyard, you can see a horizontal sundial ‘Measure the time by your own shadow’. This project was realized in 1999. L. Sadauskaitė and R. Martinkus created and accomplished that project. It is like a conception for children. Standing in the specially arranged ground, a visitor is able to measure the time of the sun by his own shadow. There are also being planed the project of spherical sundial.
The Sundials Park is adapted for different events. The belfry is located in the tower of old Post Office building, which is next to the museum. The concerts take place every Saturday and Sunday. Other evens take place there too. Different concerts of chorus, wind instruments music are organized by municipality of Klaipeda, musical centre and the museum personnel.
The citizens of Klaipeda as well as the guests can enjoy their free time here.
Educational activity is another, not less important part of the Museum’s work. At the moment a material basis of this activity is being created. A scientific personnel has already prepared an educational program for children from kindergarten age up to the 10th pupil, is set to perceive for and develop the understanding of history, beauty and the world through the sense of time. They are given lessons/lectures on different subjects, such as ‘Biological time. The clock of flowers’, ‘Bodies and phenomenon of Universe in Lithuanian riddles’, ‘The winter solstice and summer solstice’,’ Sundials in Lithuania. The parks of sundials’, ‘A clock as part of applied arts’, etc.
To popularize the museum is devoted a lot of time. There are a great number of articles and topic programs appear in the media mass.
Clock and Watch museum is a unique phenomenon. Few countries of the world can be proud of such museum. It is an important centre of cultural, scientific, philosophical world cognition.

R. Martinkus:
Born in 1956, Klaipeda.
In 1969 – 1973 finished children school of Arts in Klaipeda.
In 1974 – 1979 graduated from the Academy of Arts in Vilnius. Obtained the qualification of artist constructor – designer.
Since 1979 is the head of Klaipeda’s Clock and Watch Museum, branch of Lithuania Art Museum.
Author of various projects (hotel ’Klaipeda’, Wedding Palace, Klaipeda Drama theatre, Amber museum in Palanga, Lithuanian Maritime Museum, K. Mizgiris Gallery of Amber in Nida and, coordinated corporate style, graphical design).
Since 1986 a member of Lithuanian Artists union.
Since 1987 a member of Lithuanian Designers union.
Since 1992 the head of Art Design Centre.
Since 2000 a member of International Community of Museums (ICOM).

Modified: 10/09/2020