TOP 5 exhibitions in Kaunas that are worth visiting this summer

Celebrating the year of the European Capital of Culture, Kaunas is full of exhibitions located in various spaces of the city. What exhibitions should not to be missed and what to visit this summer?

Kentridge. “That Which We Do Not Remember”

One of the most important exhibitions of “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022” is “That Which We Do Not Remember” by William Kentridge. The exhibition is open at the National M.K. Čiurlionis Art Museum.

Kentridge is a world-renowned artist from South Africa. He is often characterized as a painfully open humanist, and his work is described as creating an atmosphere in which everyone take part. Kentridge’s ancestors were Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews). The artist is visiting Lithuania for the first time. It is an opportunity for him to get to know his roots, and for us – to see the artwork of one of the most influential contemporary artists.

For the first time since its construction, the work of another artist is displayed in the exposition of the M.K. Čiurlionis museum.

The exhibition combines different techniques, various genres; however, his work is characterized by the same dominant colors. Black and white. “That Which We Do Not Remember, because it was covered up, because our heads were occupied with lighter, more comforting thoughts, because we didn’t find the strength to look for the connection between our stories,” – said the artist. According to W. Kentridge, his family survived the Holocaust only because they escaped from Lithuania.

Kentridge occupied the cafe space. He pushed out the tables and set up his studio. Went out into the inner courtyard of the museum and said: when I am dead and in need of tenderness.

He stopped in the corridor of the museum and showed what a woman climbing into a bath looks like. But all of Kentridge’s axle, all of his bicycle wheels with a breathing mechanism, all of his rejected time and the black square are on the second floor of the museum.

The space on the second floor harbors one of the most important expositions – “The Refusal of Time”. Together with the philosophers of the relativism theory, he questions the concept of time, saying that there is neither birth nor death, because time is invented by man himself. Here you can see an installation called “Elephant”, which is designed to replicate a breathing mechanism. This, according to the artist, is a symbol of time. W. Kentridge recommends the viewer to spend at least 28 minutes in this space of the museum.

The latest discovery and accent of Kentridge’s exhibition is in the museum’s auditorium. In a place that is not adapted for exhibitions. Installation called “You Who Never Arrived” was created for the city of Kaunas, which is entering the year of the Capital of Culture. Installation depicts the Jewish cemetery of Kaunas and the landscape of South Africa.

Curator: Virginija Vitkienė

Organizer: “Kaunas 2022”

Exhibition “That Which We Do Not Remember”. In the National M. K. Čiurlionis Art Museum (V. Putvinskios st. 55). Visiting hours: II, III, V, VI, VII 10:00 to 18:00; IV 11:00 to 19:00. The exhibition will be open until November 30.

Marina Abramović. “Memory of Being”

Gallery “Meno parkas” presents the exhibition “Memory of Being” by performance artist and art world icon – Marina Abramović. Exhibition is open in the Kaunas Picture Gallery of the National M.K. Čiurlionis Museum. A visit is not worth delaying – the exhibition will be open until July 31.

“Memory of Being” exhibition presents artist’s work from the 1970s to recent years in detail. The exhibition is unique in its form – for the first time, M. Abramović’s work is presented as an impressive video installation from selected performance documentations and films, which, according to the author, should be combined into a single opera.

In the exhibition, you can familiarize yourself with documentary material, the artist’s creative biography, her famous Manifesto and her unique creative method, as well as see her interview.

Specifically for this occasion, the catalog “Valytoja” (“The Cleaner”), published in Lithuanian language, is the most comprehensive description of M. Abramović’s work so far.

Polish exhibition curator Waclaw Kuczma, said that M. Abramović’s art has so much influence because of the fatal premonitions of the future and vision of the world. Immersion in the work of this author becomes a dramatic, magical challenge for the viewer.

Curator Arvydas Žalpys sees historical connections – the worldview of the inhabitants of our region closely correlates with the work of this artist. Since the time of the Soviet “Iron Curtain”, Lithuanian artists and representatives of the cultural field tried to find more information about M. Abramović’s work in various ways – it symbolized the courageous pursuit of freedom by overcoming fear and established clichés, the unfettered expression of the artist’s personality from such familiar grips of the Soviet system. Therefore, this meeting between the audience and the author is particularly important.

The performance is like a marker in a certain time and place, where the artist meets the audience and they become each other’s mirror. The retrospective of M. Abramović’s performances allows us to see not only the development of the artist’s work, but also the inner dynamics of the viewer, striving to feel the perspective of time and see ourselves today.

Curators: Arvydas Žalpys, Wacław Kuczma, Dorota Kuczma

Organizer: Gallery “Meno parkas”

Marina Abramović. “Memory of Being”. In the Kaunas Picture Gallery of the National M. K. Čiurlionis Museum (K. Donelaičio st. 16). Visiting hours: II, III, V, VI, VII 10:00 to 18:00; IV 11:00 to 19:00. The exhibition will be open until July 31.

“Kaunas-Vilnius: Moving Mountains”

Kaunas and Vilnius, Vilnius and Kaunas. The biggest cities of Lithuania. Competing, disagreeing, but also necessary for each other. How and why do they (not) get along? The pride and prejudice that cover the life of Vilnius and Kaunas hide the truth – these cities need each other, otherwise they are doomed to a “caricature existence”. Mykolas Römeris wrote this in his diary a hundred years ago.

The exhibition at the MO (Vilnius) and the Kaunas City Museums tells about this together and at the same time – it reveals the fundamental dependence of the two cities, how they shaped each other and how modern Lithuania emerged from their tension.

To understand the artistic, cultural and political interaction of these two cities in the exhibition, helps “mountains” – a metaphor for the center, obstacle, challenge, complex, autonomy and defense.

Here it tells a story how the two centers, the acropolis, were formed and how they changed from the idea of ​​the center of Lithuania to the phenomenon of inferior capitals. Questions are asked; what it means to be a resident of Kaunas and Vilnius, how the identity of a city resident is created, as well as authenticity, uniqueness, autonomy, stereotypes and myths.

These cities are also described as necropolises, where people physically and symbolically buries, says farewell and immortalizes. In this way, memory rituals show how cities perceive themselves, what they seek to keep or reject, and what differences between them emerge. The exhibition also explores Kaunas-Vilnius connections and exchanges – from natural to symbolic, from the vision of a dipole to the identity of two cities, from cultural donations to workforce vampirism.

The mountains and motifs are repeated in the exhibition halls of both museums, but tell different stories. In this way, the concept and architecture of the exhibition itself embodies the need for Kaunas and Vilnius to be together: to see the entire exhibition, you need to visit both cities.

Author of the exhibition concept: Tomas Vaiseta

Exhibition curators and co-curators: Justina Juodišiūtė, Kotryna Lingienė, Ernestas Parulskis, Miglė Survilaitė, Rasa Žukienė

Authors and organizers of the idea: Kaunas City Museum and MO Museum

Exhibition “Kaunas-Vilnius: Moving Mountains”. Temporary art gallery of M. K. Čiurlionis (A. Mackevičius st. 27.). Visiting hours: II-III 11:00 to 17:00; IV-V 12:00 to 18:00; VI-VII 12:00 to 18:00. The exhibition will be open until August 28.

Kaunas Central Post Office. “1972 Breaking Through the Wall”

On the calendar page of May 15, 1975, it says: it has been 100 years since the birth of the Lithuanian writer Marija Ivanauskaitė Lastauskienė – “Lazdynų Pelėda”, who died in 1957. Next to this is another note: 15-V-1972 at four o’clock in the morning our Romas died. This calendar sheet is one of the “1972. Breaking Through the Wall” exhibits.

It is intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the self-immolation of Romas Kalanta. However, the exhibition tells not only about R. Kalanta, but also about other topics related to the fight for freedom.

The exhibition, which presents the topic of freedom in captivity, is located in different post office spaces, exhibits can also be found in the former service post offices. It takes visitors to the communities of people who disobeyed and resisted the system in the 1970s and 1980s: youth rock music groups, Kaunas drama and pantomime actors, rebellious hippies, modern Kaunas and Vilnius artists.

Paintings, photographs, movies, documentary evidence of musical life, youth fashion of this period and other artifacts will tell about the alternative culture and non-Soviet way of life in Soviet Lithuania.

One of the most emotional exhibits is Romas Kalanta clothes, or rather, their remains, which were left after the self-immolation, they can be looked at as if through a porthole. The curators of the exhibition brought them from the memorial museum of Kaunas Fort IX. Speaking about the exhibition, its curator Rasa Žukienė has said that for her, this is the most sensitive exhibition: “I was left with the biggest emotional impression when looking for exhibits; I saw the remnants (what was left after the burning) of R. Kalanta clothes in Kaunas Fort IX Museum. It is a handful of jeans material, shirt scraps. An outstanding exhibit. It is also exciting that the remains of the clothes were maintained for 50 years. It shows that this topic is important to our society and that many people have realized that such historical heritage must be preserved.”

Other areas of the museum will take you to the 1970s and 1980s when freedom was only in captivity. In the world of 1972, when the real events right next to the Kaunas Musical Theater were hidden, one of the first to learn about R. Kalanta’s self-immolation was Modris Tennyson’s pantomime group, which rehearsed at the Kaunas Musical Theatre.

The troupe soon split up – probably the pretext for this was R. Kalanta’s self-immolation, and the Soviet-era censors had Modris Tennyson’s troupe in sight for several years.

A separate exhibition space is dedicated to the history of Tennyson’s pantomime group. They have been active in Kaunas since 1967 and their work was guided by an authentic avant-garde ethic – acting and creating as if the Soviet context did not exist.

The history of Romas Kalanta and the colorlessness of life at that time time are accompanied by many themes with common keywords in the exhibition. The main one is disobedience to the former system. The year 1972 is also special because after R. Kalanta self-immolation artists felt even stronger influence of the system, although since the 1970s, when it comes to art, there has been a sense of freedom.

However, artists spoke in symbols, more or less openly, all the time. “The year 1972. Breaking Through the Wall” tells about this through art. A separate hall is also dedicated to music.

Curator: Rasa Žukienė

Organizer: “Kaunas 2022”

The exhibition “1972. Break Through the Wall.” Kaunas Central Post Office (Laisvės al. 102). Visiting hours: II, III, V, VI, VII 10:00 to 18:00; IV 11:00 to 19:00. The exhibition will be open until August 31.

Jenny Kagan. Exhibition “Out of Darkness” (The exhibition is part of the Festival of Stories)

The upcoming “Out of Darkness” exhibition at the Festival of Stories is worth adding to your summer and fall exhibition calendar.

Artist Jenny Kagan (UK) revives her parents’ stories about their experiences in Kaunas during the Holocaust. The environment of the exhibition consists of images, music, projections and other elements; they involve the audience in a personal and at the same time universal narrative, inviting them to explore their feelings and experiences in the face of memory, light and darkness.

“They met in 1943. In the ghetto. She was only 18 years old. It’s a story about oppression and persecution, incomprehensible loss and horror, but above all, it’s a story of love and survival,” – said the artist. “Although those around them were killed, they escaped from the ghetto and, with the help of Lithuanian rescuers, survived the war in hiding. You are invited to embark on a journey where faces float in the dark, magical worlds open up when you open your suitcase, and hidden corners invite you inside, where stories unfold.”

Curator: Justina Petrulionytė-Sabonienė

Organizer: “Kaunas 2022”

The exhibition “Out of Darkness”. Gimnazija st. 4 (building next to the Historical Presidency of the Republic of Lithuania, entrance through the garden on Vilnius st., or through the parking lot on St. Gertruda str.). Visiting hours: III, V-VII: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., IV: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The exhibition will be open from August 4 until October 30.

The program of the European Capital of Culture in Kaunas and Kaunas region continues throughout the year – hundreds of traditional and debuting events are planned in 2022, including exhibitions, festivals, performances and other activities created by local and international artists, as well as Kaunas communities. The entire “Kaunas 2022” program can be found at or in the mobile app.