The Table Tennis Museum

The Table Tennis Museum: an important exhibit – the grandmother's chest

Joniškis is also special in that it has its own table tennis museum – only the second of its kind in Lithuania. Meanwhile, Šiaurės Vartai Hotel can be proud that this museum is located right under the roof of the hotel. Romualdas Franckaitis, the founder of the Joniškis Table Tennis Museum, tells a very interesting history of this museum.
According to Romualdas, it all began with his grandmother’s chest, which became a table tennis tool for him and his brother as children. As children, they were very attracted to this game from an early age, but the school had only one table tennis table for which the brothers were just too small – at least that’s certainly what their teachers told them. Such arguments were accepted by the brothers with tears in their eyes. However, they did not want to say goodbye to table tennis completely, so instead they found a creative way around this – their grandmother’s chest. What’s more, Romualdas’s brother made his own rackets with which they both finally learned to play table tennis. Although the two have not preserved the original historical rackets, today Romualdas’s grandmother’s chest – an important element of the history of Joniškis table tennis – can still be viewed at the museum today.

The museum exhibits a collection of 3,800 collectible table tennis balls

The founder of the museum emphasises: that he had no financial goals with regard to this Table Tennis Museum. He is just eager to make this sport as famous as possible, to present its history not only to amateur tennis players, but also to interest as many curious people as possible in table tennis. Excursions are organised in the museum; their presenter is R. Franckaitis himself.

The museum exhibits a collection of 3,800 collectible table tennis balls, various stories, histories, achievements, and awards – many unique exhibits which R. Franckaitis has personally accumulated during his career.

Romualdas began collecting table tennis balls 44 years ago. “At that time, in 1965, the Soviet Union table tennis championship took place in Kaunas. The champion of several years, Andrejs Kube from Latvia, was participating at the competition. He brought with him a box with 50 table tennis balls and told stories relating to the collection. I got infected with the idea of collecting, so I started collecting some balls without waiting for anything,” says Romualdas.

The collection did not grow very quickly. It took 10 years to collect 180 balls. And the consistent work of the collector intrigued the curious. Romualdas also received the attention of the then journalist of the newspaper Sportas (Sport) Vytautas Zelenkevičius (R.I.P.). A copy of the newspaper with the publication by this journalist is one of the museum’s exhibits.

“I am glad that I managed to meet and make friends with Alfred Franckaitis living in the then Federal Republic of Germany. He invited me to visit him when the 30th World Table Tennis Championships took place in Dortmund. At the championships I had the opportunity to meet Adri van Drilen from Holland. He exhibited 1,500 collectible table tennis balls. I couldn’t take my eyes off his collection, although many people looked at it very quickly. Adri approached me, we started chatting. I told him that I had come from Lithuania, that I had been collecting table tennis balls for several years. He immediately gave me 50 of his collected balls. It was a huge boost for my collection,” says the founder of the Joniškis Table Tennis Museum.

Romualdas still collects various types of collectible table tennis balls – the collection continues to grow and change; items in the museum continue to be more plentiful every day.