A new exhibition opens on July 6th to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the opening of the Historical Presidential Palace to visitors. Confided memories: People, Things and their Stories – thus entitled exhibition presents the most valuable artifacts donated by people and various organizations during those 15 years.
The exhibition poses questions and tries to answer them from both the museum and donators’ points of view. What is usually considered to represent a Family Relic? Why do we donate to the Museum? Do we still need authentic items-exhibits? Where do the most valuable exhibits come from? Why do we care about the ‘everyday’ history? What constitutes the value of an exhibit?
This year an open-air exhibition of archive photographs commemorates the centennial anniversary of the Lithuanian Constituent Assembly. It tells us more about the elections, the first gathering of the Assembly and its main reforms during a two-year term.
The exhibition Redde quod debes: State Awards of the Republic of Lithuania 1920–1940 presents the most important State Orders and Awards protected from damage and saved at the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art. After Lithuania's occupation in 1940, some of the property of State institutions was transferred to museums. In May 1941, Pijus Bielskus, Chancellor of the Orders of the President's Office under liquidation, following the order of a secretary of the Supreme Council of LSSR Stasys Pupeikis, handed over to the museum the Chains of the Order of Vytautas the Great, Orders and Medals of Vytautas the Great, Orders and Medals of GDL Gediminas, Orders of the Vytis Cross (old and new issues), Medals of the 10th Anniversary of Independence, Medals of Volunteers-Founders, Life Saving Crosses, Medals of the Anniversary of Vilnius (1323–1923), the manufacture samples and miniatures of the Order of Vytautas the Great, samples of foreign Orders, and Award certificates of Lithuanian Orders – 12,861 items in total. On 13 September 1940, 15 Orders of the Home Guard Star were passed from the Riflemen's Union under liquidation to the Historical Department of the Kaunas State Museum of Culture. Hereby, Orders and Awards of the State of Lithuania which are now displayed in their historic home have been saved from destruction.
To get acquainted, to understand and to take pride – this was the slogan of the Historical Presidential Palace at the outset of the 5-year-project “Waiting for the Centennial: the Most Significant Events of the First Republic of Lithuania.” The team of the museum was the first to focus on the approaching centennial anniversary of the modern State of Lithuania. It sought for forms of activity exerting longterm influence on the society. Thus the ephemeral noisy campaigns were rejected and instead focus was laid on activities promoting coherent cognition of the history of the State and participation in the events.
The modernized and updated exposition introduces the Presidents of the First Republic of Lithuania (1918–1940) in traditional and innovative ways. Three presidents took the presidential oath of office: Antanas Smetona spend the whole 15 years in this office; Aleksandras Stulginskis – 6 years (including 2 years, when as the Chairman of the Constituent Seimas he was an Acting President); and Kazys Grinius had barely 6 months, a short term ended by Coup d’État. The President was elected by Seimas. The State President’s institution underwent many serious changes over two decades of the First Republic of Lithuania – changing from nominal and representative to autocracy. This evolution may be traced in explicit photo galleries, documentary films, and president’s speeches that are available on a touch-screen terminal.
A permanent historical exhibition of representative portraits, pieces of art that originally decorated the interior of the Palace, gifts to the Presidents, surviving authentic furniture, historical pictures recording the Presidents’ foreign and internal activities, public activities, pictures from personal life and many more things that tell the story of the First Republic of Lithuania (1918-1940).