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.
On October 19, Vytautas Gedgaudas‘s book, Pirmyn arba mirk (Forward, or Die), was presented at the National Library of Lithuania.
Jolanta Mažylė, Associate Professor of the Centre for Journalism and Media Studies at Vilnius University and the winner of the Gedgaudas Prize, is to blame that the articles written by a long-time editor-in-chief of the Lithuanian-American newspaper, Dirva, the only Lithuanian accredited to the Paris Peace Conference and the only Lithuanian journalist who wrote about the Nuremberg Trials for the Lithuanian American press, finally made into a book. The author of the book has managed to preserve an exceptional testimony of WWII, which will find its place among the memoirs of Lithuanian soldiers who served in foreign armies.
The book consists of three parts. The first and second parts contain Gedgaudas’s texts about the Foreign Legion in which he served during WWII. Mažylė believes that the third part of the book, which contains Gedgaudas’s articles published in Lithuanian American press after he immigrated to the United States of America, will be a revelation not only for readers but also for scholars of journalism and cultural history. The book is illustrated with photographs taken by Gedgaudas himself.
The Lithuanian National Broadcaster, the Lithuanian National Radio and Television, has created a series of documentaries “Viltis abipus Atlanto” (Hope on Both Sides of the Atlantic) which narrate stories of famous American-Lithuanians and Lithuanian cultural phenomena in the US. Three films are dedicated to the first wave of economic emigrants from Lithuania and its three descendants, doctor Aldona Šliūpaitė, collector and journalist Aleksandras Mykolas Račkus, and Stanley Balzekas Jr., the founder of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago. Other series present the second wave of political refugees, American-Lithuanian poet Kazys Bradūnas and the American-Lithuanian activist Juozas Polikaitis. The other two documentaries are dedicated to the oldest and longest-running Lithuanian newspaper Draugas and the Lithuanian neighborhood in Chicago, Marquette Park.
The new book discusses the mass waves of Lithuanian emigration in 1868-2020, their emergence and the public reaction to them. The author of the book, prof. Alfonsas Eidintas, raises a series of important questions: How do the emigration centers affect the current emigration; What is the impact of the emigration on the homeland; How does it affect the nation; Is emigration useful or damaging to nation’s and state’s development?
The book distinguishes two periods of Lithuanian mass emigration: from 1868 to 1915 and from 1990 to 2020. Prof. Eidintas does not doubt that both of them have been extremely significant for the life of the Lithuanian nation and the state.
The first wave of mass emigration significantly reduced the number of Lithuanians in Lithuania. Emigration to America was economically, politically and culturally the most significant in the life of the Lithuanian nation. First of all, Lithuanian colonies were established in America, which became a magnet for new emigrants. Mass exodus from Lithuania was not viewed ambiguously. Although it weakened Lithuanian nation, Lithuanians in the United States, mobilized by their own organizations, helped culturally and economically to achieve the nation’s aspirations. Prof. Eidintas notes that not only cultural and economic but also political support was received and constantly expected from Lithuanian colonies in the US.
Baltic University was founded in Hamburg, Germany, on March 14, 1946. Later on, it moved to Pinneberg and functioned there until October 1949. Pranas Jurkus was a student at the Baltic University. He never forgot his first Alma Mater. Throughout his life, Jurkus was collecting material about the University professors and students and was instrumental in arranging the commemorations of the University anniversaries. In March of 2021, he donated the Baltic University archive to the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago, USA, where it will be available to the researchers.
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.