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Medals commemorating the centenary of the restoration of the Lithuanian state

The exhibition “Medals commemorating the centenary of the restoration of the Lithuanian state” is open from February to 9 September 2018 at The National Museum of Lithuania, Old Arsenal.

The exhibition held in commemoration of the centenary of the restoration of the Lithuanian state presents medals created by sixteen Lithuanian artists. The medal art is closely related to statehood – fostering national values, celebrating the crucial events of the state and paying tribute to the persons of high public merit. Small-scale sculptural monuments – medals – carry an important message and have a lasting value for history, culture and education.

The exhibition consists of two parts. In the first part, the medal “The centenary of the restoration of the Lithuanian state. 1918–2018” created in 2018 by artist Lina Kalinauskaitė is displayed. The visitors can see the obverse and the reverse of the medal produced in several ways: minted from brass, silver and gilded brass at the Lithuanian Mint and made from copper by electrotyping. Kalinauskaitė is a young and active artist who makes paintings and creates medals on historical themes, commemorating prominent personalities and important anniversaries, and is the author of the medal collection “Magnificent Lithuania”.

According to the artist, she wished to pay tribute to this extraordinary date in the history of Lithuania’s statehood. The artist was confronted with a difficult task of choosing the worthiest out of a great many outstanding personalities and significant events. Having received numerous suggestions from people on the cultural scene, the artist had to group them according to the fields of activity in order to include representatives of various occupations – cultural figures, scientists, politicians and the military, i.e. those personalities who created the new Lithuania, led and protected the country and made its name famous. She also sought to commemorate the most important struggles for independence. Additional material related to the creation and production of the medal is also presented. It reveals a long and complex process that lasted almost two years: the original idea is represented by sketches of the medal drawn with pencil on paper, plasticine and plaster models reflect the further stages of the process, and the final result is embodied in the medal.

The second part of the exhibition contains 40 works created by other famous Lithuanian medal artists: Danius Drulys from Klaipėda, Petras Gintalas and Romualdas Inčirauskas from Telšiai, Vilnius-based artists Tamara Janova, Benas Narbutas, Jonas Noras Naruševičius, Antanas Olbutas, Skaistė Jūratė Žilienė, Gediminas and Leonas Žuklys, Gvidas Latakas from Kaunas, and Jonas Žukas from Anykščiai. Many of these artists are participants of annual international symposiums of medal artists in Telšiai, and the exhibited medals were created during the last two symposiums (“The Citizen of the World”, 2016; “Coats of Arms and Panegyrics”, 2017). The latter was dedicated to commemorate the centenary of the restoration of the Lithuanian state. The architect of the symposium, prof. Algirdas Žebrauskas, praised the former resident of Telšiai Gvidas Latakas for an original expression of the Samogitian spirit, and awarded Gediminas Žuklys with a money prize.

A significant place in the exhibition is occupied by a gold plaque in honour of the first Presidents of the Republic of Lithuania (1918–1940) Antanas Smetona (1874–1944), Aleksandras Stulginskis (1885–1969) and Kazys Grinius (1866–1950), created by the designer of a number of commemorative coins of the Bank of Lithuania Giedrius Paulauskis and minted at the Lithuanian Mint in eight copies. The plaque is part of the collection “The Makers of Lithuania. 1918–2018” initiated by the Kaunas businessman Kornelijus Bačkevičius. The plaque was lent for the exhibition by numismatist Eugenijus Ivanauskas.

Signatories to the Act of Independence of 16 February 1918, other persons who distinguished themselves in the struggle for independence, as well as the symbols of freedom and Lithuania’s statehood – the Pillars of Gediminids, the Tower of the Vilnius Higher Castle and the sculpture Freedom by Juozas Zikaras (1881–1944) – are commemorated in the medals.

The exhibited medals and plaques are produced by various techniques: minted in a mint, cast from plaster and bronze, made from copper by electrotyping, fired from clay, and made by using original techniques. Most medals are exhibited courtesy of the artists. The exhibition also includes the medals produced by LLC “Monetų namai” on the occasion of the anniversary of the state and donated to the National Museum of Lithuania. The medal dedicated to the signatory of the Act of Independence of Lithuania Pranas Dovydaitis (1886–1942) is a gift of the artist Jonas Žukas to the House of the Signatories.

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