2023 was not only a jubilee year for the MO Museum, but also a time of significant accolades: the Museum entered the new year on its fifth birthday, became the first art museum to offer teacher training, and has been recognised as one of the top five art museums in Europe.
The biggest Museum event of 2023 was the exhibition “Vilnius Poker”, dedicated to Vilnius’ 700th anniversary, which attracted more than 140,000 visitors during the year. In 2024, the MO Museum will be no less action-packed, with a major new exhibition opening in March. What else will the Museum’s visitors experience in the New Year?
Invitation to look back on important themes
The year 2023 marked the Museum’s first big anniversary – in October, a five-day MOrathon celebrated the Musem’s fifth birthday. Milda Ivanauskienė, the Museum’s director, points out that during its years of operation, the MO Museum has been most popular for exhibitions that have become significant events.
“Over five years, these exhibitions have attracted around 0.7 million visitors, probably because the themes and issues raised resonated with the lives of people today. This is one of the Museum’s main goals: we invite the public to look back at important topics, to reflect on them through their own experiences, and, finally, to enter into an open dialogue,” says Ivanauskienė.
In addition to the major exhibition “Vilnius Poker” (curated by Dovilė Barcytė and Algė Gudaitytė, directed by Oskaras Koršunovas and designed by Gintaras Makarevičius), the MO Museum in 2023 also hosted one of the most famous contemporary Lithuanian artists, Žilvinas Kempinas, who lives and works in the USA, his plaster mask workshop and the exhibition “Portraits-Fossils 2023” (curated by Miglė Survilaitė and Aušra Trakšelytė), and the MO Museum’s second children’s exhibition, “The Trolleybus and His Whiskers” (curated by Kotryna Zylė and Justinas Vancevičius, Vaikų Žemė).
However, from the very first years of its existence, the MO Museum has sought to go beyond the exhibition programme and to respond more broadly to the needs of society, to create deeper impact and change. For this reason, education and cultural training have been a major focus.
In 2023, these efforts were crowned with a significant recognition – the MO Museum became the first art museum to be accredited by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport to develop the qualifications of teachers. At the end of January, Milda Ivanauskienė will share the Museum’s work in the field of education at “MuseumNext”, one of the largest international museum conferences.
Exhibitions focus on silenced stories and emotional health
The almost year-long major exhibition “Vilnius Poker” will say goodbye at the end of January, and this year the visitors of the MO Museum will again be treated to two major and two minor exhibitions. In the first half of 2024, modern and contemporary art from the three Baltic States will be a major focus – visitors will see works by Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian artists, with curatorial teams from all three countries.
The main exhibition “We Don’t Do This. Intimacy, Norms and Fantasies in Baltic Art” (curated by Adomas Narkevičius, Inga Lace, Rebecca Põldsam), which will present new works by both well-known and still under-appreciated Baltic modern and contemporary artists, opens in March. The exhibition will reflect on the culture of sexuality, family relations, gender roles and the transformation of these phenomena in Baltic visual art from the 1970s to the present day.
The major exhibition “We Don’t Do This” will focus on individuals and communities whose perception of their social gender and identity was not in line with societal attitudes, and the sexual revolution that did not take place in the Baltic States did not allow them to emerge either. This exhibition aims to tell stories that have been hidden or silenced for many years.
In April, visitors will be welcomed by a new small exhibition “Down the Rabbit Hole” (curated by Justė Kostikovaitė, Maija Rudovska, Merilin Talumaa), which will take a fresh look at the art of the three countries from the 1960s to the present day,by reconsidering the Baltic countries’ turn to paganism and spirituality as a refuge in the Soviet era, and the way in which the spiritualism of the Baltics is taking on a more commercial and conspiratorial character in the present time.
In autumn 2024 the MO Museum will focus on emotional health and ecology. The major exhibition “From the Inside” (curated by Brigita Kaleckaitė, Aldona Dapkutė, Deima Žuklytė-Gasperaitienė) will for the first time in Lithuania combine art and psychology on such a large scale – it will explore the impact of art on the development of our psychological resilience. Meanwhile, the accompanying small exhibition (curated by Marius Armonas) will focus on the theme of ecology: the works of contemporary artists will be used to raise issues related to the relationship between human beings and nature, which are widely discussed and topical today.
At the end of the year, the Museum received a proud international announcement: in the programme of the Lithuanian season in France 2024, the MO Museum and one of the most important art museums in Europe – the Pompidou National Centre for Art and Culture – will jointly organise an exhibition, which will open in September at the Centre Pompidou, and will showcase the works of Lithuanian artists from the collection of the Centre.
Continued travels through Lithuania
As last year, the MO Museum will spread modern and contemporary art far beyond the capital. In 2023, the travelling MO exhibition “Celebrate for Change” visited Druskininkai, Šalčininkai and Biržai, while in Marijampolė visitors had the opportunity to see the exhibition “Mekas Winks Better”. This year, fragments of the major exhibition “Vilnius Poker” will be on display in Šiauliai, Panevėžys and Marijampolė.
In addition to the MO exhibitions, educational activities for schoolchildren and training sessions for education and culture staff will be held all over Lithuania. In addition to the exhibitions, we will be travelling to Kėdainiai and Ukmergė with the educational activities of the Millennium Schools’ Programme, and to Klaipėda with our partners the British Council in Lithuania.
“We are delighted that this year we will be able to continue the tours of Lithuania that started before the opening of the MO Museum. We are constantly striving to bring modern and contemporary art out of the cultural bubble of the capital as much as possible – the dissemination of quality art in the regions of Lithuania is important in reducing cultural exclusion and social division.
It is especially important for us that we not only present the exhibition in Lithuanian cities and towns, but also share our accumulated knowledge and practice of cultural education. This creates a tangible lasting value after the exhibition is over. We receive positive feedback not only from visitors, but also from the participants of the educational activities and trainings, even after a long time has passed – this is the biggest incentive,” says Milda Ivanauskienė, Head of the MO Museum.
Popular and new events in the Museum
As usual, throughout the year, the MO Museum will host events to complement the exhibition experience and invite people to new cultural experiences. The major exhibitions will be accompanied by MOrathons, transforming the opening weekend into a fusion of rich discussions, conversations, and lively musical or stage performances.
The youngest visitors are welcome to the renewed Family Sundays with the actors Marija Korenkaitė and Eimantas Bareikis from Keistuolių Teatras, while in the summer the museum will once again become a place of creative fun for children’s camps, and the children’s favourite, “Night in the Museum”, will be held for the third time in autumn.
Those who want to deepen their knowledge about art will also get some good news – the popular “Back2School” lectures with Ričardas Jankauskas will return for another season. Having grown into a small festival over the past four years, “MO Outside” will continue to invite unexpected musical and literary discoveries on the terrace of the MO Museum.
This is just one part of the diverse cultural action that will greet visitors to the museum. Renewed education programmes for children, an annual conference for the Teacher’s Passport community, MOcation – the team-building activity, and the informal, relaxing and inspiring “Meeting Around Art”, inviting you to engage in a relaxed, moderated conversation and make new friends.
The institutional partners of the MO Museum are the Lithuanian Council for Culture and Vilnius City Municipality.