From 24 August the MO Museum becomes a family attraction with the opening of a small exhibition for children “The Trolleybus and His Whiskers”. The exhibition combining visual art, literature, the senses and play is the second in the Museum’s history dedicated to the youngest visitors. At its heart is a route through the easily recognisable spaces that make up every city in the world. The journey through the school, the shop, the library and other places integrates works of art from the collection of the MO Museum, literature, and poems by the writer Daiva Čepauskaitė.
A place for first cultural experiences
With the first children’s art exhibition two years ago, the MO Museum remains committed to families and the belief that shared meaningful experiences are important and that the museum is the perfect place for that. The new exhibition “The Trolleybus and His Whiskers” once again transforms the museum’s spaces into an open and creativity-stimulating space of exploration that is welcoming and tailored to early art experiences.
According to Milda Ivanauskienė, the director of the MO Museum, since its inception the museum has been successfully helping to do away with the stereotype that modern art can only be accessible to adults. According to her, almost every work of art unlocks a child’s imagination – it’s about finding the right way to engage and excite.
“Cultural experiences are essential for growing up – they form positive habits and develop cognitive skills. Research also shows that early exposure to culture leads to a greater sense of meaning in adulthood. Constantly working with the children’s audience, expanding our educational activities, we have accumulated a great deal of practical and theoretical knowledge, which we are combining in this exhibition with the skills of the exhibition’s creative partners,” says Ivanauskienė.
The MO Museum team started to implement the exhibition with the help of the literary awareness programme for children and adolescents “Vaikų Žemė”, and its creators, Justinas Vancevičius and Kotryna Zylė, became the curators of the exhibition. According to Vancevičius, the idea of developing a children’s project together with the MO Museum has been in the making for several years.
“Both organisations behind the exhibition are well aware of the importance of a broader conversation about children’s culture, which contributes to the development of well-educated, open-minded, creative individuals, and advocates the creation of works of high artistic value for children, as well as of cultural services. These principles guided us in the creation of the exhibition “The Trolleybus and His Whiskers”, presenting excellent works of art and literature, providing space for creative self-expression and discovery,” says Vancevičius.
Seeing the city through the eyes of the future generation
According to the MO Museum’s curator and exhibition coordinator Ugnė Paberžytė, exhibitions for children at the MO Museum are becoming a fun and valuable tradition that allows to look at current topics through the lens of the youngest generation of visitors.
“This year, we have tried to make all the Museum’s content about the city or, more specifically, about Vilnius – both the children’s experiential space in the hall and the new exhibition deal with themes of the city and are beautifully connected to the larger exhibition. We are delighted to be able to realise this with the exhibition’s creative partners – the curators “Vaikų Žemė”, as well as the entire creative team – illustrator Antanas Dubra, exhibition architect Povilas Vincentas Jankūnas, author Daiva Čepauskaitė, and others,” says Paberžytė.
The small exhibition “The Trolleybus and His Whiskers” interacts with the major exhibition “Vilnius Poker”, dedicated to the 700th anniversary of the capital city: the visitors of both exhibitions are invited to take a journey through the city’s spaces, through which a literary text leads them. In contrast to the atmospheric and complex issues of totalitarianism explored in “Vilnius Poker”, “The Trolleybus and His Whiskers” looks at the city through the eyes of children born in this millennium.
“The exhibition takes us through the city as it is seen by children born in a free country – the image of an apartment block becomes a bright living space for the characters in the books, a medical institution becomes a cognitive station where you can listen to the sounds of the human body, and a school becomes a place where poetry is created.
We explore the city through the eyes of a generation freed from the traumas of the past – as a space of discovery, cognition and play. I would say that the shared experience of these exhibitions can have a liberating effect – we accept and rethink the past, and then we play, we give the future to the children to create,” says Kotryna Zylė, curator of the exhibition.
Meeting of visual art and literature
The exhibition features six stops easily recognisable to the inhabitants of any city. Each of them is marked by works by authors from the collection of the MO Museum – Stasys Eidrigevičius, Patricija Jurkšaitytė, Jolanta Kyzikaitė, Vytenis Jankūnas, etc., accompanied by poems specially written by poet Daiva Čepauskaitė.
An unexpected character – a trolley-poet – becomes a companion on the journey through the exhibition spaces. Like a mysterious urban animal that knows its surroundings through its whiskers, it tells the story of its journey and invites the visitor to create their own personal narrative, extending it beyond the exhibition.
According to the creators of the exhibition, when works from the MO Museum collection appear at different stops, the child is confronted with the essential function of art – to elevate everyday, mundane things to the level of artistic language and interpretation. At the same time, the adults who have escorted the young visitors are invited to have a conversation with the child, discussing what the choice of this work might mean, what story it tells, how it relates to the station and the poetry verse next to it, and what feelings and thoughts it evokes.
“We wanted the first encounters with the art world to take place in familiar territory. In the city space, the child embarks on a game, experiencing the joy of recognition and, ultimately, the miracle of art interpretation. We also want the story of the exhibition to inspire the children themselves to create their own stories, and the illustrations of the books and their characters to lead to exploring contemporary children’s literature,” shares Zylė.
The children’s exhibition “The Trolleybus and His Whiskers” will run until 7 April.