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Vytautas the Great War Museum and M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art

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K. Donelaičio g. 64, Kaunas
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A complex of two extremely impressive museums, that can’t be compared to anything else in Lithuania, is one of the most prominent statements of the interwar period in terms of scope and idea.

The origins of the Vytautas the Great War Museum date back to 1919. The order was signed on January 22, 1921, where was proclaimed that the military museum that is being created has a noble and honourable goal to make future generations an eternal monument of how Lithuania, that was continually defeated by its enemies for centuries, broke free from slavery and achieved independence through blood, sweat and tears with a gun in its hands. The first exposition was established inside the stables of the Tsarist Russia III Infantry Regiment that once stood on the territory of the current Vienybės aikštė (Unity Square). After a couple of years, however, the museum was closed due to an emergency condition, which is when discussions regarding what type of building could perform the function of this building and where it should be located began.

The history of the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art is considered to have begun on December 14, 1921. The first Čiurlionis gallery was located on Pelėdų kalnas (Owl Hill) and it’s still possible to visit it even today.

The cornerstone of the new museum was sanctified in 1930, the 500th anniversary of the death of Vytautas the Great. For the foundation of the building, soil was brought from Gedimino kalnas (Gediminas Hill) in Vilnius and other locations where the Lithuanian Wars of Independence took place. The course of the design of what was called the House of Nation’s Culture by the interwar press was both a state and a personal matter for every Lithuanian. Architectural contests were held twice, and the construction works, which were sponsored by both local Lithuanians and those living in foreign countries, took six years to complete. The building was eventually opened on February 16, 1936.

The building was designed by Vladimiras Dubeneckis with the help of Karolis Reisonas (Kārlis Reisons). The southern part is a symbolic monument to Vytautas the Great and contains important accents including the carillon tower, the arcade with the cannon exposition and the lions that came from Astravas Manor in Biržai, the latter being an important feature in thousands of family photo albums both in Kaunas and further afield. The northern Čiurlionis side is clearly inspired by the works of the symbolist artist. A motif of a crown, which the artist liked very much, can be seen on the main façade with the naked eye.

In 2015, the European Commission awarded 44 objects of Modernist interwar architecture in Kaunas the European Heritage Label, among them this museum complex.

Vytautas the Great War Museum and M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art

K. Donelaičio g. 64, Kaunas

A complex of two extremely impressive museums, that can’t be compared to anything else in Lithuania, is one of the most prominent statements of the interwar period in terms of scope and idea.

The origins of the Vytautas the Great War Museum date back to 1919. The order was signed on January 22, 1921, where was proclaimed that the military museum that is being created has a noble and honourable goal to make future generations an eternal monument of how Lithuania, that was continually defeated by its enemies for centuries, broke free from slavery and achieved independence through blood, sweat and tears with a gun in its hands. The first exposition was established inside the stables of the Tsarist Russia III Infantry Regiment that once stood on the territory of the current Vienybės aikštė (Unity Square). After a couple of years, however, the museum was closed due to an emergency condition, which is when discussions regarding what type of building could perform the function of this building and where it should be located began.

The history of the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art is considered to have begun on December 14, 1921. The first Čiurlionis gallery was located on Pelėdų kalnas (Owl Hill) and it’s still possible to visit it even today.

The cornerstone of the new museum was sanctified in 1930, the 500th anniversary of the death of Vytautas the Great. For the foundation of the building, soil was brought from Gedimino kalnas (Gediminas Hill) in Vilnius and other locations where the Lithuanian Wars of Independence took place. The course of the design of what was called the House of Nation’s Culture by the interwar press was both a state and a personal matter for every Lithuanian. Architectural contests were held twice, and the construction works, which were sponsored by both local Lithuanians and those living in foreign countries, took six years to complete. The building was eventually opened on February 16, 1936.

The building was designed by Vladimiras Dubeneckis with the help of Karolis Reisonas (Kārlis Reisons). The southern part is a symbolic monument to Vytautas the Great and contains important accents including the carillon tower, the arcade with the cannon exposition and the lions that came from Astravas Manor in Biržai, the latter being an important feature in thousands of family photo albums both in Kaunas and further afield. The northern Čiurlionis side is clearly inspired by the works of the symbolist artist. A motif of a crown, which the artist liked very much, can be seen on the main façade with the naked eye.

In 2015, the European Commission awarded 44 objects of Modernist interwar architecture in Kaunas the European Heritage Label, among them this museum complex.

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