The branch of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art which has been operated as the Vytautas Kasiulis Art Museum has been transformed into the Lithuanian Diaspora Art Museum. In order to form a new identity of the museum and to acquaint visitors with the contribution of Lithuanian artists who have lived and created abroad, an extensive program has been prepared.
In May-June, the museum will open two exhibitions of Lithuanian diaspora artists: “Unknown Juozapas Jurkūnas (Jur Jurkun)” and “Vaclovas Ratas: Beyond the Equator.” In November-December, the museum will host a personal exhibition “Antanas Mončys: Faces and Spirits” dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Antanas Mončys and an exhibition “Between Expectations and Opportunities” reflecting the works of women artists in interwar Vilnius. On October 27, the Lithuanian National Museum of Art and the Lithuanian Cultural Research Institute will organize an interdisciplinary conference “Migration: Concepts and Experiences” at the National Gallery of Art. In May 2022, the museum will host an extensive exposition dedicated to the art of the Lithuanian diaspora.
Birutė Galdikas, the Canadian-Lithuanian scientist, came to the attention of National Geographic as one of the twenty women pioneers, who had been almost forgotten today. In the article “These 20 women were trailblazing explorers—why did history forget them?” celebrating March as Women’s History Month, National Geographic introduces Birutė Galdikas (born 1946), one of the female scientists dubbed Trimates, who has researched orangutans since the 1970s. Believing women to possess more patience and perception than men, paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey supported three young female scientists to live among the great apes. With funding from National Geographic, he helped set up field stations for Jane Goodall to study chimpanzees in Tanzania, Dian Fossey to live with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and Galdikas to observe orangutans in Indonesian Borneo. The three women went on to complete groundbreaking research.
When Galdikas first entered Tanjung Puting National Reserve in 1971, orangutans were thought to be difficult—if not impossible—to study. More solitary than other primates, they roamed over large areas of dense tree canopy. But before long, Galdikas could spot them in the wild and even get close enough to interact with them. She transformed her home into a “halfway house” for animals transitioning out of captivity and raised the orphans almost as her own children, according to a 1975 cover story that she wrote for National Geographic.
newspaper “Mūsų pastogė” informs that last December the Australian Lithuanian
Community, Inc. Board of Directors decided to invigorate the Australian
Lithuanian Community Archive so that it is the preferred option for people to
donate their archive material.
As a result the
Board appointed a management committee, currently chaired by the interim chair Tony Cibiras. The committee is also
looking for “archive ambassadors” in all communities and the organizations to
help promote the Archive.
longer term plan is to collect, collate and digitize the history of Lithuanians
in Australia and make it available online. One of the options being discussed
is to partner with the National Library of Lithuania to gain access to the
portal www.epaveldas.lt. Another is to join with the Lithuanian Archives
Project in Chicago www.lithuanianarchivesproject.org and use their portal.
On November 1, the
Australian Lithuanian Archives shared another piece of news. The Archives has
been successful in obtaining a grant from the National Library of Australia.
This highly competitive grant gives the Archives funding for a Significant
On 25 November, 2019 the screening of a film “Coming Home Soon: The Refugee Children of Geislingen” by Dutch-Estonian film director Helga Merits took place at the National Library of Lithuania. The director’s latest film is about Estonian children who fled Estonia in 1944 with their parents, sometimes with only one parent or relative, and spent the war in the Geislingen refugee camp in southern Germany.
Despite the testimonies
about extreme poverty and especially difficult living conditions during and
after the war, Merits says that her film is also about hope and inspiration.
And while the documentary tells a story of Estonian refugee children living in
the Geislingen refugee camp from 1945 to 1950, it is also the history of many Eastern
Europeans. The film draws parallels with the current situation of the refugees
in Europe as well. “Coming Home Soon” has already been screened in 11 countries
and 24 European cities.
“Coming Home Soon”
is the fifth documentary film by Helga Merits. All her films tell stories about
people who were forced to leave their homes and establish new lives in new and
The director was
present at the screening and answered questions from the audience.
A Lithuanian-Australian writer Kristina Dryža is better known in the world of business and management as one of the most influential futurists, trend forecasters, and business consultants, who worked with companies such as Virgin Group, Microsoft, and British Sky Broadcasting. Kristina says that many still do not know that she is also the author of the novel Grace and the Wind released in 2014. I asked Kristina a few questions about writer’s craft, her first book, and future plans.
– How did you become a writer?
I always loved
to write as a teenager, mainly in my journal, kept from my parents’ prying
eyes. I didn’t really enjoy writing assignments at school or essays at
university. I didn’t like writing to perform, to prove, to justify – for
results. I had more fun crafting messages in Christmas and birthday cards for my
friends, and sharing my overseas travel experiences in postcard form, when
writing postcards was de rigueur in
the pre-internet era.
Why is it important to bring
diaspora authors together? Or perhaps not only diaspora authors but Lithuanian
writers who live in Lithuania and Lithuanian writers who live in diaspora?
The Arts thrive in community. In isolation, an author can push
themselves to create, yes, but to truly realize their full potential they must
be challenged in an inspiring way. The more diverse the ideas that the artists
and writers discuss when they come together, the more intriguing ideas bubble
up – instead of just beer, you get champagne. Writers of the diaspora see
Lithuania from a different perspective, from a bit of distance. Do you know the
fable about the elephant and the blind men? One saw a wall, one saw a rope, one
saw a tree, and one a spear? Only by adding this all together could they
discover an elephant? It is both challenging and inspiring to hear about how
other writers work, where they find peace, how they get through writing blocks,
what themes and ideas matter. There is something about being in a room full of
people who care as much about the perfect word as you do – and then discovering
that person lives across the globe from you – and yet you have similar roots,
you both know the blue of a cornflower, you both remember some adult showing
you as a child how to get to the sharp, bitter scent of a rūta by crushing one
leaf between your thumb and forefinger, you both know the savory taste of dill.
It pulls the world closer, like a drawstring. And what you keep in that secret
sack—that is up to you, but it is nice to know that everyone is carrying some
memories that are all tied together.