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IN THE NAME OF A FREE LITHUANIA. THE LITHUANIAN AMERICAN TRADITION OF SUPPORTING LITHUANIA

6 July–26 September 2021

The exhibition to be held at the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, In the name of a free Lithuania. The Lithuanian American tradition of supporting Lithuania, presents to the broader public the history of the Lithuanian diaspora in the United States of America and their deeds contributing to the restoration and maintenance of Lithuanian statehood, as well as the formation and continuity of the tradition of showing support for Lithuania. The decision to open the exhibition on July 6, such a symbolic day in the history of Lithuanian statehood, is quite deliberate. The contribution to Lithuanian statehood made by the Lithuanian diaspora in the United States, where the largest Lithuanian émigré communities are found, has been particularly significant, encompassing the political, economic and also cultural aspects. The support of Lithuanian Americans for Lithuania during difficult periods in its history served as a critical form of moral backing. In turn, it was very important for emigrants who found themselves surrounded by other cultures not to lose their own Homeland. For them, Lithuanianness became the foundation of moral, cultural and religious life – a centre of consciousness that let them hold onto their Lithuanian identity, and at the same time, it gave them the freedom to act and take real steps towards securing international recognition for Lithuania, and to support their fellow countrymen and women. A Lithuanian identity was fostered by those for whom Lithuania remained the fortress of their hearts, the purpose of their conscious dedication. It is written in the Lithuanian Charter (1949), an document important to the entire Lithuanian diaspora, “A Lithuanian strives to defend and maintain the independent Lithuanian state through one's deeds, academic pursuits, wealth and dedication”. This fine tradition of supporting Lithuania in various aspects and fields is being continued to this day.

This exhibition presenting the history and tradition of Lithuanian American support for Lithuania is being held on the second floor of the Exhibition Centre at the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Visitors will be able to familiarise themselves with many exhibits from different collections belonging to Lithuania's museums, libraries, archives and private collections. Following a chronological order, the exhibition has been divided into five thematic parts.

Part I presents the period of the Lithuanian diaspora from the end of the 19th century to 1918. In this part of the exhibition, visitors will learn about the history and activities of the “grynoriai”, the first Lithuanians in the United States: the first Lithuanian publications released in the United States, the first organisations dedicated to upholding the Lithuanian spirit, and the activities of Lithuanian American organisations helping seek Lithuania's independence. In the second part of the exhibition, “Lithuanian Americans during the period of the First Republic of Lithuania 1918–1940”, presents the support shown by Lithuanian American community towards the recognition and entrenchment of Lithuania's statehood – collecting a million signatures for the recognition of Lithuania and then presenting them to the American president, and the history of the Freedom Bell that has been perpetuated as the Millennium Bell, gifted to the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in 2012 and displayed in this exhibition. Visitors can also discover the Lithuanian American initiatives to make Lithuania's name heard around the world. Part III of the exhibition, “Lithuanian Americans and Lithuania under occupation, 1940–1990”, is dedicated to the assistance of Lithuanian Americans during this very difficult time in Lithuania's history, when it lost its independence. The documents and photographs on display in this part of the exhibition demonstrate the unification of Lithuanian American political streams in the name of restoring Lithuania's lost statehood, as well as providing economic and cultural support to the country. The Voice of America radio phenomenon is presented, revealing its role in keeping alive the spirit of the Lithuanian diaspora, also, the hopes of freedom in occupied Lithuania. The fourth part of the exhibition, “Lithuanian Americans and independent Lithuania, 1990–2021”, reveals the support shown by Lithuanian Americans in seeking to restore Lithuania's independence and firmly establish its statehood, and to become members of NATO. The fifth part of the exhibition, “Lithuanian Americans' support for the Palace of the Grand Dukes”, is closely associated to the venue where the exhibition is being held – the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. This will be a visual demonstration of the contribution made by Lithuanian Americans towards the reconstruction of the Palace of the Grand Dukes. The efforts of the Royal Palace Support Foundation, the Royal Palace Restoration Committee USA and the personal contributions of the Lithuanian diaspora in the United States are all presented, showing how they helped in the reconstruction of the Palace of the Grand Dukes and are regularly supplementing the museum's collections and expositions with artwork; some objects will be on display in the exhibition.

The exhibition will also feature an informative map with the most important centres where Lithuanians have settled in the United States, as well as a detailed timeline that offers a chronological overview of the most relevant events in American Lithuanians' history from the end of the 19th century to our days. Visual and sound recordings will be demonstrated in a specially designated separate space in the Exhibition Centre.

Patronage of the Exhibition
His Excellency President Valdas Adamkus

Exhibition organiser
National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Exhibition concept authors and consultants
Prof. Dr Juozas Skirius
Dr Ramunė Šmigelskytė-Stukienė

Exhibition curators and coordinators
Dr Živilė Mikailienė
Gintarė Džiaugytė
Gintarė Tadarovska

Exhibits owned by
Lietuvos centrinis valstybės archyvas
Lietuvos ypatingasis archyvas
Lietuvos nacionalinis muziejus
Lietuvos nacionalinė Martyno Mažvydo biblioteka
Nacionalinis M. K. Čiurlionio dailės muziejus
Nacionalinis muziejus Lietuvos Didžiosios Kunigaikštystės valdovų rūmai
Prezidento Valdo Adamkaus biblioteka-muziejus
Rokiškio krašto muziejus
Trakų istorijos muziejus
Vilniaus universiteto biblioteka
Vytauto Didžiojo karo muziejus
Jungtinių Amerikos Valstijų Lietuvių bendruomenė
Regina Narušienė
Prof. dr. Juozas Skirius

Exhibition publishing coordinator
Dr. Živilė Mikailienė

Exhibition scientific and cultural program coordinators
Dr. Ramunė Šmigelskytė-Stukienė
Eglė Nemeikaitė
Vytautas Gailevičius

Exhibition educational program coordinator
Lirija Steponavičienė

Exhibition marketing and information coordinator
Mindaugas Puidokas

Exhibition technical installation coordinators
Kęstutis Karla
Aurimas Ramelis
Saulius Marteckas

Sponsors