Museum-Arsenal is an exposition department at Lviv Historical Museum, opened in May 18, 1981 at the former City Arsenal - an outstanding architectural monument of the 16th century (Pidvalna St., 5). The exhibition represents the examples of ancient weapons from more than 30 countries. The exhibition is based on chronological and thematic principle, according to the type and place of weapons manufacturing. The chronological limits of the items exposed cover the 11th – early 20th centuries and give an idea of weapons evolution, weapons types, kinds, production centers, aesthetic tastes of gunsmiths masters, level of technological development of the society and so on. Luxury decoration of many units allows us to talk about them as about the works of applied art. Many items are decorated with precious metals, precious stones, ivory, pearls, coral, mother of pearl.
The Museum-Arsenal represents all the main types of weapons: cold, fire, articles of defensive weapons.
Cold weapons are the most widely represented: knives, daggers, swords, sabers, épées, yatagans, axes, halberds, maces, czekans, pernaches.
The exhibition represents all types of medieval swords: belt swords, half-handed swords, two-handed swords. The blades of many swords are marked with signs, symbolic signs, inscriptions. Interesting is two-handed sword from the 14th century, its handle head is decorated with brass cross - the sign of Teutonic Order. This exhibit is a witness of heroic struggle of Slavic peoples against German knights.
Huge two-handed swords from the 16th century which were used in the defense of fortresses for throwing down assault ladders surprise by their size, they were used by the guard of generals and flag.
The pearl of the collection is the sword of Eastern type from the 17th century with double blade, so-called “Zulfakar.”
Exquisite ornaments have the knives and the daggers of Caucasus and Arabic East people.
Widely represented in the exhibition is the cold weapon steel on spears: spears, partisans, halberds, bardiches, axes etc.
In the Museum-Arsenal there are a lot of interesting examples of percussive weapons on short spears: maces, czekans, pernaches. The exhibition includes unique ancient maces from the 11th – 12th centuries. Since the 16th century the mace became a symbol of hetman power in Poland and Ukraine, the pernach - a symbol of colonel power. Often they were decorated with gold, silver, precious stones.
Throwing arms in the Museum-Arsenal is represented by the bows and hunting crossbows.
In the exhibition of the Museum-Arsenal there are a lot of interesting examples of protective arms. This is, in particular, chain mails, armature, shields and helmets. The pearl of the museum collection is the armor “Winged Hussar” - the main shocking forces of Rzecz Pospolita in the 17th – 18th centuries. This armor is a good combination of the best achievements of Western European and Eastern weapons. It was successfully used against both - East light cavalry and West armored cavalry. The museum represents a hussar armor of S. Yablonovsky Company which was decisive during the Battle of Vienna in 1683.
The Museum-Arsenal exhibits a collection of helmets. It includes such helmets as “Arme” and “Morion” wonderful Italian ceremonial helmet “Burhinyot” (the second half of the 16th century), copy of which is represented in the exhibition. A helmet, made of copper, is fully decorated with engraved scenes from “Aeneid” by Virgil.
Among the shields special attention deserves Iranian shield (the 17th century), on steel surface of which there are gold floral and geometric ornaments of extremely fine work; Tatar shield Kalkan (the 17th century) made of grape vine with multi-colored silk threads, decorated with gilded silver umbo (by Lviv artists) in the middle.
Firearms are widely represented in the Museum as well. You can see here artillery and hand weapons. Valuable part of the collection is bronze cannons from the 16th – 17th centuries by Lviv artists L. Herle and Ya. Polyansky where there are the signs, the coat of arms of Lviv, relief images. We cannot but mention the mortars from the 17th century weighing 30-35 kg with the bombs.
The Museum holds a collection of handguns. These are the rifles and pistols with flint-matchlock, flint percussion, capsular locks from the workshops of West and East. Interesting examples of arms of local artists, including duel guns of Lviv master T. Visnovetsky (the 19th century.) are exhibited here. Hunting rifles are distinguished by magnificent decoration. Their trunks and rifle butts are decorated with the wicker of gold and silver ornaments, engraving, carved hunting scenes, images of birds, animals and etc.
Great interest is raised by the weapons of Hutsul craftsmen from the 18th – 19th centuries: rifles (Chrises), pistols, richly decorated with carved geometric ornament, inlaid with mother of pearl, silver, copper, brass darts and plaques. We can trace firearms further evolution due to the examples of breech-loading arms: revolvers, rifles, guns.
An interesting accessory of firearms was powder, often made of horn, decorated with carving, metal darts, sometimes bound with silver.
The exhibits represented at the Museum-Arsenal are a small part of Lviv Historical Museum collection of arms, which numbers about 4.5 thousand units.
At the core of the collection there are the collections of arms of ancient Lviv museums: National Museum of King Jan III (enriched in 1914 by the collection of V. Lozynsky and in 1919 – by the collection of B. Ozhehovych), History Museum of Lviv, Museum of Princes Lubomirski.
Besides weapons Arsenal also holds the exhibition of holograms of old orders, made of authentic decorations stored at the collections of Lviv Historical Museum. The visitors can see, in particular, holographic images of the Order of St. Andrew, the Order of Golden Fleece, the Order of the Legion of Honor and many other prominent decorations of Europe and Asia.
In the building of Arsenal a valuable monument of Lviv foundry - a statue of the Archangel Michael, by Master Caspar Franke is remained.
Formerly it adorned the portal of the Royal Arsenal in Lviv (1638).
Museum-Arsenal is a unique museum, which has no analogues in Ukraine.