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Chief Curator of The National Gallery of Art Vilnius - Lolita Jablonskiene.

We understand this to be not just a collaboration with schoolchildren or families, but also something more. For example, the contemporary art collection that we unveiled in 2009 has been the subject of harsh criticism. That’s why we decided to ask art historians, public intellectuals, and other professionals to speak at the exposition and to show what we have and what we haven’t reached, as well as what we can still achieve. We have recorded these lectures on video, and they are available to all gallery visitors on touchscreen monitors. We also organize a documentary film series, which presents Lithuanian artists from both the modern day and the Soviet period, as well as contemporary art figures from other countries. We screen the films exclusively at the museum, thereby ensuring free entry. The auditorium is always full. The screenings are attended by people of all ages and from a variety of different fields, including artists, who don’t shy away from learning something new. This is how we understand “communicating with the visitor.” Rather than educating them demagogically, we supply them with tools that come in handy when learning about art.

The Lithuanian National Gallery of Art is also home to contemporary art. Viewing contemporary art as history and including it in the museum is definitely not an easy task.
The National Gallery of Art is a branch of the Lithuanian Art Museum. The contemporary art collection is the national collection, and it is comparatively small. Financing was allocated only after the year 2000, so no more than twenty works have been acquired. We show contemporary art both in the permanent exposition and in individual exhibits, for which we use those spaces that don’t normally function as exhibition halls. The National Gallery building is the reconstructed Revolution Museum, built in the 1980s. As is typical of Soviet era architecture, the building has a grandiose foyer with ceilings as high as seven to eleven meters tall. Back then nobody worried about heating bills. In the extensive entrance hall we tend to show works of art that were created for a specific place, not just by Lithuanians but also by international artists.

The modern art museum works with contemporary art in various ways. In Vilnius, the collection was formed in part chronologically and in part thematically. But there is a wide range of possibilities. For example, at a recent exhibit at the Tate Modern in London, the curators chose to mix several periods: surrealist works were shows alongside a contemporary artist’s installation that featured similar subconscious elements. Of course, museums also have exhibits that are dedicated solely to contemporary art.

My personal conviction is that the contemporary must be in museums, even if the museum works with art from other periods, too. We must help younger visitors establish a link between art from various time periods, and to see the context. Though it wouldn’t be correct to focus only on young people.