World famous Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind to build first museum in Vilnius dedicated to Lithuanian modern and contemporary art.
Transitions Online (tol.org) 22 January 2016
Lithuanian philanthropists have teamed up with a world-renowned architect to give the capital city its first modern art museum dedicated to the country’s own artists.
Designed by Daniel Libeskind in partnership with Do architects and Baltic Engineers, the expansive concrete-and-glass building will act as a “gateway” between the Medieval and eighteenth-century quarters of Vilnius.
“It's a museum for people. It is not just for art lovers, but for families, for kids. People just enjoy the public space, then will enter the museum and then get also interested in all the contents," Libeskind said of the Modern Art Center museum – a first of its kind for Lithuania – which will be the permanent home to a 4,000-piece collection of contemporary Lithuanian art, AFP reports.
Libeskind, the Polish-American author of Berlin's landmark Jewish Museum and New York's National September 11 Memorial and Museum, said the Vilnius venue will feature Lithuanian art from the Soviet-era 1960s through to the present day.
Philanthropist Viktoras Butkus and his wife Danguole Butkiene are spending 8.5 million euros ($9.2 million) on the collection and the museum itself, which features a “striking angular white concrete cube with a diagonal passageway and a large mirrored outer terrace at the back, according to AFP.
“We wanted to create a museum for the people of Lithuania, and also give this collection a home and an international audience. This collection is about the cultural legacy of the country,” Butkus said.
“Libeskind’s work is expressive, innovative, and, most importantly, has the power to tell the story of the past while connecting to the future of the city.”
The Modern Art Center in Vilnius is due to open in early 2019. The collection also includes multimedia documentation of the development of Lithuanian photography.
The museum’s acting director, Milda Ivanauskiene, told The Baltic Times that the center has been well received in Lithuania. “I think it has to do with the fact that the former cinema Lietuva, which was a neglected place, is about to be revived into a new cultural space,” she said.
• The collection contains the paintings by Vincas Kisarauskas, Arvydas Saltenis and Kostas Dereskevicius in addition to photographs by Antanas Sutkus and video by Deimantas Narkevicius.
• Butkus earned his fortune in 2010 by selling his stake in Fermentas, an enzymes producer for biotechnology companies. "Since Lithuania regained independence in 1991 ... neither museums nor collectors have bought works from this period" due to a lack of funding, he told AFP.
• Painter Patricija Jurksaityte said the museum would offer a complete map of Lithuanian art as opposed to the country's National Gallery, which often displays just a single work by any given artist, AFP says.
• The museum will consist of 1,000 sq. m. of exhibition space dedicated to both permanent and temporary exhibitions. It will also feature a 250 sq. m. multifunctional meeting hall and a 400 sq. m. open rooftop terrace. It will also have a cafe, a bookstore and educational areas.
Libeskind Designing Lithuanian Modern Art Museum