The 12 successes of 2023

9 December, 2023, Kaunas Full of Culture | News, Topic of the month

It is difficult to talk about happiness in absolute terms when viruses keep spreading, forests are being destroyed and now we have two wars to worry about instead of one. The interest rates are rising, and the inflation, although subdued, still does not allow us to live as freely as we deserve for working overtime. Especially in the field of culture, the gap between wishes and reality is not shrinking in any way in terms of projects and free time. Finding a couple of hundred (or more – there is no upper limit here) euros every month to visit all the events and exhibitions you want, to see all the best movies, can be a real challenge.

But the fact remains: the year 2023 is going to an end. It already happened, and flew by very quickly, leaving only a few memorable traces. And if anyone feared that after the 2022 marathon in Kaunas, silence and fatigue would follow, after pausing and evaluating the last 11 months, those worries are gone. This is one of the most essential elements of the European Capital of Culture’s legacy. We become more open to each other and also thirsty for good quality culture, art, content, and action. There was a lot of good this year, so in this text, we introduce a limitation and focus only on new or returning things. We are also preparing for the January 2024 issue, which might focus on the theme of debuts, where some of these initiatives will be revealed in more detail.

Exciting things are on the horizon! The renovated Kaunas County Public Library on Parodos Hill will have an opening in January. The library will host Morfai’s exhibition (he is featured in this month’s issue) and there will be plenty of green plants. Later next year we expect the re-opening of the Lithuanian Aviation Museum, too. Maybe the M.K. Čiurlionis concert hall affairs will move forward. It would be about time. However, the historic Daina cinema, which is currently undergoing intense renovation, might announce its opening first. In Daina, films will share the space with concerts and other events.

Amsterdam School Museum

In the November issue of Kaunas Full of Culture, we took a closer look at the colour code of this private museum located in a spacious apartment of the interwar period. The museum is visited only during guided tours or by private appointment, and at least on social media, the object, which is not yet a year old, is one of the most popular in Kaunas, together with its predecessor, the Art Deco Museum. What’s the secret? Sincerity. Love. That kaunastic gene that some have, and some don’t. And no, it has nothing to do with your place of birth.

Photos by Arvydas Čiukšys

Jazz Academy Festival 

We have told you about the small jazz academy that nurtures great talents and is run by the joint efforts of improvisation master Arnas Mikalkėnas and the mother of one of his students, Daiva Masaitytė. And it is not located in some fashionable loft but in Šilainiai. Last year, we applauded the Lithuanian youth jazz orchestra brought together between Šilainiai and Klaipėda. It is a fantastic-sounding initiative that helps expand the boundaries of musical knowledge. And this spring, the academy invited to a short but ambitious festival, where the most passionate students performed. The concert hall here is small, with only a couple of dozen seats, so it is not surprising that all the concerts were sold out. We hope to visit next year as well. Kaunas is a jazz city and Šilainiai is a jazz district.

Hands on Gallery

Exhibition spaces are in short supply, but who said you can’t have a gallery in your window? Especially if it is on the street, in the basement, and therefore it can be conveniently viewed just by stopping. The most difficult task falls on artists because they have to fit their creations into less than a square meter. This tiny but 24/7 eye-pleasing gallery was initiated by a self-publishing studio and printing house Hands on Press located on Donelaičio St. 26. Master printmakers, illustrators, and graphic designers, Gabrielė Gudaitytė and Inga Navickaitė-Drąsutė, have already organized three exhibitions this year, and right before Christmas, they will set up a festive exposition.

Photo by Jonas Vaikšnoras


The music lovers of Kaunas who longed for Ryšių kiemelis never got used to its new face (the reincarnation took some time), so it had to be a long time before some brave people appeared, who were determined to continue the mission of spreading good quality live music. Now Solo Ansamblis, Kamanių šilelis, FC Baseball, Giedrė, and Lukas Pilkauskas have a place to invite their Kaunas fans to. OLDMAN Kaunas event organization experience extends to the seaside, Klaipėda, and Palanga, so the team definitely has some tenacity. We wish them plenty of energy for the cold season and the best possible mood for the next summer.

Kita galerija and Teatro kiemas

“How much free space is there in Kaunas?” is the same rhetorical question as “Is Kaunas really full of culture?” It depends on how you look at it. There are free spaces but not all of them are comfortable, affordable, or adaptable to a specific creative idea. Godo Culture Bar located next to the chamber, musical, and puppet theatres decided to get closer to the drama theatre. The owners of Godo agreed with the National Kaunas Drama Theater, which manages a large complex of buildings and courtyards between Laisvės Avenue and Kęstučio Street, that for the summer they will set up a bar in the courtyard leading to the long hall on one side and to the Romuva outdoor cinema on the other. There are more premises behind the cinema where the curator of the Godo program and the visual identity creator Agnė Urbutė decided to set up a gallery. A different kind, open only in the evenings, and open to genres and names that don’t necessarily fit elsewhere. The group illustration and painting exhibitions organized during the first season made us feel hopeful. We hope that the schedule for 2024 is already being filled.

Photo by Greta Vainauskaitė

The UNESCO title

If one of the toughest political journalists in the country Nemira Pumprickaitė invites architectural historian Marija Drėmaitė to her show, it means that the issue is relevant not only for the people of Kaunas but also for the entire nation. We believe it is also relevant for architecture lovers around the world. The modernist architecture of Kaunas was proposed for the UNESCO World Heritage List a few years ago, and it took the same amount of time to prepare the nomination file, so we can really say ‘finally’. Being on such a global list does not ensure greater care for heritage, but it inspires us to seek it. And let’s not forget the tourists, who will be curious to see what that new thing on the list is about. We can all benefit from it if we try.

The Devil’s Museum 

It’s not news, one would say. It has been ages since Antanas Žmuidzinavičius decided to open his collection of devils to the curious public. But while the painter’s house and its annex were being renovated, we had definitely missed this institution, which could be compared to coriander: you either love it or hate it. So far, the changes are more external, but in September, the common spaces of the museum were filled with spectacular installations, which you feel like broadcasting on your social media. “We will definitely be open this year,” one devil whispered to us after we asked when the museum would be closed for the renewal of the exhibition. You should find time to pop in and be reminded of how different cultures of the world portray the devil. Also, Miglė Kosinskaitė and Peeter Krosmann’s exhibition about Kaunas showcased in the former premises of the painter is definitely worth at least your lunch break.

Photo by the museum

Gallery AX-Y

People in Kaunas recognize the name of the Architecture Gallery. It is the branch of Nulinis laipsnis initiative from the capital and it operates, albeit rather vaguely, under the office of architect Audrys Karalius on Kurpių Street. And AX-Y is located in the office. In the office of bold, young architects who invited their colleagues to experiment. This autumn a fungus was grown in the gallery, and in December you will experience a theatre of architecture.

International Photography and Media Art Festival (IPMA festival)

In the summer, for the first time, we invited Svetlana Batura – a highly regarded photographer in the world of performing arts – to take photos for our magazine. Soon after that, we met at her place of work on Owl Hill, at the Kaunas College Academy of Arts. “We are organizing a new photography and media art festival with the college. We will bring the one and only Boris Eldagsen. He won the Sony World Photography Award this year and turned it down. He will hold the world premiere of his new project at our festival. Will you come?” a new acquaintance asked nonchalantly. Of course, we did! The debut festival focused on the topic of artificial intelligence (although it was not limited to it), so we left having significantly deepened our knowledge as well as opened up to new points of view. The festival will definitely return in 2024.

Kaunas Blues festival

GM Gyvai is a phenomenon that brings to Kaunas and other cities of Lithuania desert musicians who have never performed in Europe, whirling dervishes, and never-before-seen instruments. The origins of the never-ending world music festival lie in the festival organizer Žilvinas Švarplys’ love for blues. Having spent quite a lot of time in the USA, where pop culture grip is not as tight, Žilvinas remembered his passion and organized a blues festival in Kaunas this year. The concerts in the Kaunas sports hall (continued on December 9) were wonderful but turning the pubs in the station area into juke joints was an even better idea. Blues in a pastry shop, blues in a barbecue joint! We cannot wait for the next year’s menu.

Photo by Jonas Kaminskas

Outdoor gallery of Leonas Strioga’s wooden sculptures

Sculptor Leonas Strioga, who passed away in 2022, lived for many years in a cozy house next to the buzzing Savanorių Avenue in Kaunas. His works soon found a place in an open-air gallery on the Tadas Ivanauskas’ Obelynė homestead. This year the gallery was ceremonially baptized. The director of the Kaunas City Museum, Zigmas Kalesinskas, took care of it himself. It seems that such things happen without much planning in advance and without writing grandiose projects. They happen because they have to. If you’re going to the homestead specifically for L. Strioga, make sure to stop by Zapyškis where another outdoor gallery of photographer Antanas Sutkus was opened last September.

Baltic New Art Gallery

When the Kaunas Modern Art Foundation announced the exhibition of the members of Angis group and their students at the train carriage repair workshop in Šančiai, many were delighted. Indeed, large-scale – both in terms of the number of works and their dimensions – painting exhibitions are not so commonly seen on our cultural calendar. While we are waiting for the repair works to move forward in the M. Žilinskas Art Gallery – the only place that has some space suitable for large-scale works (or perhaps we are waiting for Godot) – we have to look for other ways. One of the buildings of the BLC business center is home to a private gallery Aukso pjūvis, which skillfully uses the public spaces of the building for exhibitions. Here, it is always interesting to stop by, say, the abstract wood sculptures by Sigitas Straigis or to stand under the original straw mobile created by Vilhelmina Raubaitė-Mikelionienė. And now, we suggest you visit the other building of the business center after crossing Vienybės Square. It used to be home to Meno Ministerija Gallery for some time and now, the Baltic New Art initiative is holding its first exhibition there until December 8. The exhibition is special because it features the works of Auris Radzevičius, who passed away several years ago and left a painful void in the Kaunas art community. We hope to get to know the gallery staff better soon and then tell you more about the mission and goals of the Baltic New Art.