An exhibition of the Martynas Mažvydas National Library, reflecting the changes in the way eight of the most famous Lithuanian writers have been commemorated, is extended until April 18. The showpieces of the exhibition vary from stamps that easily fit in the palm of the hand, to serious looking portraits. How were Kristijonas Donelaitis, Simonas Daukantas, Vincas Kudirka, Julija Beniuševičiūtė-Žymantienė Žemaitė, Jonas Mačiulis-Maironis, Salomėja Nėris, Bernardas Brazdžionis and Jurga Ivanauskaitė viewed over the passage of time?
“I have created a monument more lasting than bronze...” – once wrote the Roman poet Horace. This line lies behind the Latin title of the exhibition, “Exegi monumentum: Commemoration of Lithuanian writers”. After all, monuments created for writers often loom invisible, like the background of a picture, and this sometimes ignites fierce discussions in the public sphere. By organizing this exhibition, the National Library invites you to step back from the current affairs of the day and, after a careful look, discover the forms of commemoration of writers from the perspective of centuries-old history.
This exhibition is characterized by many exclusive showpieces. It includes the crown made for the poet B. Brazdžionis, carved from wood by folk sculptor Ipolitas Užkurnis, S. Nėris’ travel map drawn by an unknown author, and school notebooks with classic portraits issued in Lithuania during the inter-war period. Some of the showpieces evoke nostalgia: Do you remember the one litas banknote with the image of Žemaitė?
The sixtieth anniversary of birth of J. Ivanauskaitė will be commemorated at the end of 2021, and the forms of remembrance for this writer show how the commemoration of writers has changed in the 21st century. Creative, playful solutions are sought, and both civil society and the business world are involved in the commemoration process. Magnificent images are replaced by simpler images, such as T-shirts with portraits of classics.
Lithuanian writers have also been eternalized in distant corners of the planet. For example, Vincas Kudirka squere, is located in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Donelaitis peak, which is 5837 metres high, is located in the southwest of the Pamyr Mountains, Tajikistan. Lithuanians living in the USA have been taking care of Lithuanian writers for quite some time - this is evidenced by the postcards in the exhibition depicting S. Daukantas and Žemaitė, published in the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century. Exiled poet B. Brazdžionis was immortalized in sunny Los Angeles near the Pacific Ocean, where he lived for a long time. A yard for artists of the diaspora, named after Brazdžionis, was opened there and the monument to this writer was built in it (sculptor Gintaris Česiūnas).
The exhibition “Exegi monumentum” is an exceptional opportunity to see exhibits from the National Library's collections and many different institutions, all in one place. They were provided to the exhibition by the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, the joint stock company “Lietuvos Paštas”, the Money Museum of the Bank of Lithuania, the National Museum of Lithuania, the Maironis Museum of Lithuanian Literature, the Trakai History Museum, and the Lithuanian Literature and Art Archive. The exhibits intended to commemorate J. Ivanauskaitė were lent by private persons: The family of J. Ivanauskaitė, the author of the sculpture “Cat” Ksenija Jaroševaitė, J. The Ivanauskaitė Prize winning poet Aušra Kaziliūnaitė, architect Robertas Mažeika, artist Ugnė Žilytė.
The exhibition will take place at the National Library until April 18th.
The organizers of the exhibition are the Documentary Heritage Research Department and the Communication and Marketing Department of the National Library and the designer of the exhibition is Kotryna Abromaitytė. The project “Commemoration of Lithuanian writers in the 19th to 21st centuries in Lithuania” was supported by the Lithuanian Culture Council. It is implemented in cooperation with the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore.