The exhibition “The Sign of Tomas Venclova”, exhibited at the National Library of Lithuania from September 13 to November 6, invited to take a fresh look at Tomas Venclova (b. 1937), a well-known poet, translator, literary researcher, professor, dissident and public figure.
The exhibition opened up different stages of Venclova’s life, spheres of activity, hobbies, friendships, and works. Looking back to the very origins of poet’s rich and meaningful life, the exhibition presented poems and a manuscript written by Venclova in his childhood, photographs testifying to his close relationship with the world of books from his early days, and his first books.
The exhibition included Venclova’s collection of poems Kalbos ženklas [The Sign of Language, 1972] published fifty years ago, which was the poet’s remarkable public debut and left a deep imprint on Lithuanian poetry of that time. This book also inspired the title of the exhibition. Other books of Venclova’s poetry and their translations into various languages were also on display.
The exhibition illustrates the wide variety of media that has existed in the diaspora since 1990. Presented in seven sections, it invites visitors to learn about both print media and electronic publications in Europe, USA, South America, Canada and Australia. A separate section is dedicated to publications that were repatriated to Lithuania, and another to radio and television programming that was important to the diaspora. Finally, the section “Communication on the Internet” is an overview of virtual forms of contact and information.
The exhibition includes only a small number of Lithuanian publications that existed in the diaspora. According to the National Library of Lithuania data, there were more than 50 publications in English alone after 1990. Thirty years ago Lithuanian communities outside of Lithuania were flourishing, and are still dynamic, as shown by the profusion of available media, from traditional newspapers to today’s websites, social networks, forums and blogs.
The exhibition was curated by the staff of the Adolfas Damušis Centre for Democratic Studies and the Lithuanian Studies Section of the Department of Heritage Documentation Research of the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library. The English translation was provided by Ramūnė Sakalaitė Jonaitis.
This year Lithuania celebrates a world-renowned American-Lithuanian archaeologist, anthropologist, a pioneer of archaeomithology, Marija Birutė Alseikaitė-Gimbutienė (Marija Gimbutas).
Marija Birutė Alseikaitė-Gimbutienė was born on January 23, 1921 in Vilnius. She began to study at Vilnius Vytautas Magnus Gymnasium. In 1931, the family moved to the provisional capital of Lithuania, Kaunas. There, Gimbutienė studied at Aušra Gymnasium, which she finished in 1938. In the same year she started studying linguistics at the Faculty of Humanities of Vytautas Magnus University. In 1936, she participated in archeological research in Lithuania, in 1938-1939, she took part in the excavation works of prehistoric burial grounds in Kaunas. After Lithuania regained Vilnius, Gimbutienė went to study archeology at Vilnius University. In 1942, she defended her MA thesis “Modes of Burials in Lithuania in the Iron Age.” In 1944, when the Soviets were approaching Lithuania, the Gimbutas family left the country.
On July 17, 2020, the Day of Lithuanian Unity in the World, the National Library of Lithuania presented a new virtual exhibition dedicated to the Lithuanian press abroad after 1990.
The exhibition consists of seven chapters. It invites to learn more about the newspapers and magazines published in Europe, the United States of America, South America, Canada and Australia. Extremely rich and diverse corpus of Lithuanian press published in the US is worth a separate exhibition, for example, the daily Draugas, founded in 1909, is the oldest Lithuanian newspaper published without a break in the world.
Topical issues of the Lithuanian press in America are also discussed in the section on periodicals which have been transferred to Lithuania after the country regained independence. Lithuanian radio and television programs abroad also receive special attention in the exhibition: from the Margutis Radio Program, founded in 1932 in Chicago, to the contemporary podcasts accessible on the Internet.
The article was originally published in December 2013 issue of“Lapas” (2013, no. 65, p. 10.)
With the announcement on page 2 that subscriptions for Lapas are increasing next year, I would like to acquaint readers with the history of Lapas and how it came into existence.
When I arrived in Brisbane [Australia] in 1990 and first went to the Lithuanian Club in September of that year, I met a number of Lithuanians around my age then (37), give or take a few years either way, who spoke little or no Lithuanian. Some of them told me they grew up feeling they did not fit in as they were brought up Lithuanian, but without speaking the language, so there was an inner turmoil of where they belonged. I related to this too. Although born in Australia, I was brought up Lithuanian also, and when I started school, I didn‘t know a word of English, so I never really fitted in either.
The article was originally published in premier issue of “Lithuanian Heritage Magazine” (2014, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 2), as an editorial signed by the publishers and editors.
1994 marks the 120th anniversary of Lithuanian press in America. In 1874 a one-page leaflet by an anonymous author, written in the Lithuanian language, was printed in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
From that humble beginning, newspapers and magazines of every type, size and ideological context began to be published. They would serve the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian immigrants arriving to the shores of the New World.
The purpose of those publications was threefold: First, to keep the newcomers up-to-date on conditions and events occurring in Lithuania – particularly in the ancestral homes and farms they left behind; second, to preserve and perpetuate the language, customs and traditions of those who had already settled in America and had begun to assimilate into its fastpaced environment; and third, – since Lithuania was under Russian czarist oppression at the time – to awaken the immigrants’ patriotic spirit and to nurture the idea of a future free and independent Lithuania.