Vilnius MO Museum to Host ‘Vilnius Poker’ in City’s 700th Anniversary Year

Vilnius' MO Museum to Host Major Exhibition During the City's 700th Anniversary

The Vilnius Modern Art Museum will host ‘Vilnius Poker’, a new exhibition that will be one of the significant highlights of the city’s 700th anniversary year celebration. The immersive exhibition is based on one of the most significant literary works of the last several decades and combines art, cinema, music, and literature to create a labyrinth-like experience of the multiple layers of Vilnius.

The city’s 700th-anniversary program is rapidly taking form and will be an ideal opportunity for residents and visitors to explore various cultural, artistic, educational, and musical events. For the anniversary celebrations, the modern art MO Museum will host a new major exhibition on April 22, one of the year’s highlights.

The MO museum, designed by one of the world’s most renowned architects Daniel Libeskind and a piece of contemporary art itself, having been awarded the Portimão Museum Prize as the most welcoming and friendly museum in Europe, along with being nominated for the Leading Culture Destinations Award, better known as the Museum Oscars.

A sculpture made from wood in the museum

The Vilnius Poker exhibition invites art enthusiasts to unearth the city’s layers through sound, images, and text. It starts in the late Soviet era and reflects on the subsequent periods significant for the city’s transformation, divulging the topics that were relevant both in the 1980s and today:

  • A conscious existence.
  • Freedom to think critically and creatively.
  • A fight for intrinsic human rights and values.

The passage through Vilnius takes the form of different time frames and invites visitors to explore the city’s national and cultural identities and how it has grown into a modern cosmopolis.

Oskaras Koršunovas, one of the most prominent theatre directors in Lithuania, whose work is well-known to European audiences, had the responsibility of creating the Vilnius Poker concept.

He was assisted by a multidisciplinary team, and together, they brought the exhibition’s concept to life, inviting visitors to immerse in the key topics playing endlessly throughout the history of Vilnius—freedom, memory, identity, and multiculturalism.

The team have combined art, cinema, literature, and music to get visitors to think of what kind of character Vilnius is nowadays and what character it will be in the future.

A circular shaped oil painting being placed on the museum wall

Art pieces from Lithuanian artists will be on display at Vilnius Poker, and will span from the 1960s to date, depicting the evergreen ideas of freedom, recollection, selfhood, and the perpetual fight against a metaphysical evil.

Novel depicts Vilnius before the fall of the Soviet Union
The exhibition revolves around one of the most significant texts in Lithuania of the last several decades and is a pivotal point in building the myth of Vilnius, the novel Vilnius Poker by Ričardas Gavelis, published in 1989. After its publication, the novel became a symbol of breaking free from the Soviet era and attaining the freedom of creativity.

The author deconstructed the Soviet reality, choosing sharp angles to discuss jazz, architecture, arts, citizen anthropology, and multiculturalism.

“The novel depicts Vilnius as an intricate, chaotic, dream-like city with nothing specific or real. This was the starting point in creating the exhibition, which is designed like a universal tale, not limited to a specific place or time period. Vilnius Poker at MO Museum is an experience intended for every spectator’s self-reflection in relation to history, memory, identity, the time and place of existence,” said Milda Ivanauskienė, head of MO Museum.

A selection of artworks on one of the museum's walls

According to Koršunovas, the different exhibition spaces guide a visitor through a metaphorical Vilnius.

“We travel through the exhibition like a labyrinth and have the freedom for a wide interpretation of the novel; therefore, we have chosen artists who would not illustrate the spaces but interpret them,” added the director.

The Vilnius Poker exhibition will be open throughout the entire anniversary year, from April 22 to January 28, 2024.

Read more art news, guides and features here.

A projection on the wall explaining the exhibitionVilnius MO Museum to Host 'Vilnius Poker' in City's 700th Anniversary Year 2

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