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Lithuania, my Homeland... Adam Mickiewicz and his poem Pan Tadeusz

27 November 2018–24 February 2019
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

With the cooperation of three memory institutions of Lithuania and Poland – the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, the National Ossolinski Foundation Ossolineum and the Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collections, an exhibition called Lithuania, my Homeland... Adam Mickiewicz and his poem Pan Tadeusz will be held in Vilnius at the end of 2018. The aim of this exclusive project is to highlight the relevance of the historic and cultural links between Lithuania and Poland, which are both celebrating the centenaries of the restoration of their statehood in 2018, and to draw attention to the common features of their heritage. For this purpose, the masterpiece Pan Tadeusz, created by the nation's shining beacon, Adam Mickieiwicz, has been selected as the most distinctive reflection of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This work also relates the non-existent state with the current states that were formed in the early 20th century, namely, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. Therefore, this project, which prompts visitors to think about the concepts of statehood, identity, origins and a common heritage, is an excellent way of commemorating this anniversary year, while the exhibition serves as an ideal platform for the presentation of these concepts.

The exhibition is being organised in the Exhibition Centre of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, and will cover an area of around 500m2. Over 250 authentic unique and typologically different exhibits shall be presented to visitors from the collections of around 30 Polish and Lithuanian heritage institutions (museums, libraries, archives, private collections, etc.), while also incorporating different installation techniques, such as modular walls and information stands in various formats.

Taking into consideration the assessment of Adam Mickiewicz and his work in Lithuania, two main themes of exposition content shall be presented: 1) Adam Mickiewicz (and his life), and 2) his poem Pan Tadeusz. The necessity of discussing Adam Mickiewicz's biography and work arises from the need to inform Lithuanian society, especially school and university students, about the poet. Mickiewicz's biography is presented in the exhibition in separate sections – Place of Birth (Mickiewicz was born in Navahrudak), Family, and Origins. These sections shall introduce the poem's author to visitors. Separate chronological sections shall present the most important periods in Mickiewicz's life, as well as his motivation to pursue a literary path – the Vilnius and Kaunas period (of greatest relevance to Lithuanian visitors), Literary Debut, Adam Mickiewicz in Europe, Paris, and Constantinople. Guided by these narratives, visitors are familiarised with the poet's entire biography and his work. A special supplement to these narratives are the maps of locations somehow associated with Mickiewicz (in Vilnius, Lithuania and in other European countries). It is important to note that separate themes and sub-themes are presented showing just three, or the most important, exhibits.

A separate thematic section in the poet's biography concerns the Memorialisation and Relics of Adam Mickiewicz. This part of the exhibition is presented using typologically different exhibits and information stands, paying particular attention to Lithuanian content, i.e., exhibits that are associated with Vilnius, Lithuania, or that are kept in the collections of Lithuanian cultural heritage institutions.

Another theme of the exposition directs visitors to the second part of the exhibition – Historic Context of the poem Pan Tadeusz, which explains the reasons, stimulus and circumstances behind the poem's creation in several corresponding sub-themes – Partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Tadeusz Kościuszka Uprising, Constitution of May 3, Napoleon, and 1831 Uprising.

Once visitors have been introduced to the Historic Context of the Poem Pan Tadeusz, the exposition continues with the key Elements of the Poem's Content. The vision behind this part is to learn about the events described in the poem and to bring visitors closer to the work's context, also, to inspire the public who are not aware of its content to read the poem itself. The themes and narratives developed here, including The Castle (The Seneschal, the Count), The Farm (The Statute of Lithuania, The Chamberlain, The Judge, The Apparitor, The Battle), The Tavern (Jankiel, Jacek Soplica, Multiculturalism), The Hamlet (Zosia, Telimena, Sprinkler, Mushrooming, Table Traditions, Symbols in the Poem), Pan Tadeusz, and others that draw attention to the location of the exhibition – Vilnius in the Poem Pan Tadeusz – should stimulate sentiments among Lithuanian visitors and help them arrive at a deeper understanding of the content and value of the poem.

An important aspect for Lithuanian society would be the links between Pan Tadeusz and Lithuanian literature. In this regard, a separate theme is presented at the exhibition – Tracing the Steps of Pan Tadeusz in Lithuania. There are translations of the poem into Lithuanian from the second half of the 19th century until today, as well as Lithuanian literary works that have been greatly influenced by the poem (similar invocations, reception, etc.). Even the National Hymn by Vincas Kudirka, which has become the national anthem of modern Lithuania, repeats the beginning of Pan Tadeusz...

The last theme of the exhibition is Publications of Pan Tadeusz and the Manuscript. Here visitors will see publications of the poem from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as separate translations into different languages. The exhibition culminates in accessories to the manuscript (a chest, bag, notebook, quill and pencil), and the actual manuscript of Pan Tadeusz, which is considered a national relic in Poland, kindly on loan for this exhibition from the  National Ossolinski Foundation Ossolineum. Also on display nearby is a bag with some “earth from my homeland” from Pakaunė, which, according to tradition, Mickiewicz took with him into emigration.

A broad program of cultural and scientific events, and education activities is also planned as part of the international exhibition Lithuania, my Homeland... Adam Mickiewicz and his poem Pan Tadeusz 

The exhibition is financed under the extended NIEPODLEGŁA Program for 2017–2021 by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. The project is being organised in cooperation with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in accordance with the international cultural program POLSKA 100, which is dedicated to mark the centenary of the restoration of Poland's independence.

Main organisers of the exhibition
National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (Vilnius)
National Ossolinski Foundation Ossolineum (Wrocław, Poland)
Pan Tadeusz Museum (part of the National Ossoliński Institute)
Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collections (Kraków, Poland)
in cooperation with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (Warsaw, Poland)
Polish Institute in Vilnius (Lithuania)