M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art
M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art is one of the largest and oldest art museums in Lithuania. It has already reached the one hundred years of its history and from a small temporary Čiurlionis Gallery has grown into a huge museum complex, which today has as many as 10ym different museums. The official date of M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum’s foundation is considered to be the 14th of December 1921. The main impetus to this was the need to collect and save M. K. Čiurlionis’ creative inheritance. In 1924, artist Paulius Galaunė, the only one in Lithuania having a museum education after his studies in Paris Louvre School (Ecole du Louvre), took the helm of the M. K. Čiurlionis Gallery. It was opened on December 13, 1925, and had almost 4.5 thousand exhibits.
In 1936, the new museum opened its doors to the public. It was an impressive monument to Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great and named after him. In 1940, when the Bolsheviks occupied Lithuania, the ideological orientation immediately changed. Soviet cultural policy moved the museum’s work in the other direction: so we had quickly to collect and save the nationalized assets. At the beginning of World War II, the situation drastically changed again. The Nazis allowed the museum to return the name of Vytautas the Great, but imposed wartime rules. If the Soviets did not touch the collections of the State Museum, the Germans treated them as their property.