Architecture of Optimism. The Kaunas Phenomenon, 1918-1940

opening on Thursday, 28th of June, 2018 at 5 PM; exhibition runs till 3rd of September, 2018

The modernist architecture of Kaunas is a reflection of the optimistic political, social, economic and cultural ideals of the 1920s and 1930s, when Kaunas served as the provisional capital of the newly restored independent Republic of Lithuania. The city’s metamorphosis during this period was nothing short of a miracle. Kaunas radically changed its identity: in less than twenty years, residents built more than 12,000 buildings and transformed Kaunas into a modern, elegant European capital city.

After World War II and throughout the Soviet occupation that followed, Kaunas’ heritage of pre-war modernist architecture served as a vivid memory of former statehood, a symbolic window to the West, and a benchmark for architectural excellence for Soviet-era architects. For Kaunas today, that heritage has become the foundation of the city’s identity and an expression of its genius loci. This exhibition is more than just the story of one city. It speaks to the perpetual birth and collapse of dreams, about creative endeavours and the appeal of rewarding optimism, and about the migration, locality and commonality of ideas and forms.

Curators: Marija Drėmaitė, Giedrė Jankevičiūtė, Vaidas Petrulis

Exhibition design: Ieva Cicėnaitė, Matas Šiupšinskas, Linas Gliaudelis

Exhibition is organised by the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO. Exhibition is funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.

Strategic Partner – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania

Partner – Kaunas 2022 European Cultural Capital