Another Great Year at the Balzekas Museum!
2016 has been another great year for the Balzekas Museum and a very important milestone, the Museum's 50th Anniversary. In 2016, and for the past 50 years, we could not have achieved all that we do without your continued support. The widely acclaimed "No Home To Go To" the Baltic Displaced Persons exhibition tour visited the Lithuanian Museum and Archives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; the United Nations in New York; the Science, Business, and Industry Library of the New York Public Library where it is currently on view through the end of 2016. Concurrently, the permanent leg of the exhibition is on view at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture here in Chicago.
With the assistance of the Lithuanian Consulate in NYC and our own Consul General here in Chicago, The Hon. Marijus Gudynas, the Museum board of directors, staff, and I had the distinct honor to meet with Her Excellency Dalia Grybauskaitė, and to present her with the Balzekas Museum 2016 Award of Excellency for her her courageous leadership and dedication to a secure, democratic, and sovereign Lithuania. The President was in New York to attend the United Nations general assembly on refugees. The Lithuania's Consul General in New York, The Hon. and his staff, kindly allowed us to display some of the "No Home To Go To" exhibition banners for President Grybauskaite to view. Exhibition curator Irena Brokas Chamber gave the President a guided tour of this exhibition material.
Our staff continues to work diligently on the various programs and events that help advance our mission of preserving and celebrating Lithuanian culture and the achievements of the Lithuanian nation and people. We are also compiling a very special book that will highlight 50 treasures from the Museum with the intention of showcasing our extensive collections as well as highlighting our 50-year role as a cultural institution in the United States and vis-a-vis Lithuania. Watch for more news about this publication here on the Museum's website and in upcoming Museum Review issues.
Help us make 2017 an even more successful year. If you are not already a member, considering joining the Museum family. If you would like to contribute to a specific project, program, or collection, we are able to tailor unique naming opportunities to your specific area of interest. Chicago area residents are very welcome to join our active volunteer core. However, if you live farther away, but could dedicate some time writing for our website, the Museum Review, or publications, translating from English to Lithuanian or vice versa, we would warmly welcome your assistance. Please contact us to discuss such possibilities.
Growing for the future
The Balzekas Museum's balzekasmuseum.org website launched in 2008. Developing a virtual presence was another exciting phase of growth for the Museum. We have been thrilled to continue our mission on the world wide web. Each day we are visited by people interested not only in the Museum, but in learning about Lithuania, its rich culture and language, and the contributions and activities of Lithuanians and Lithuanian communities around the world. In honor of our 50th year, we are developing a new and updated responsive website that will allow us to further showcase the Museum's collections and activities. We are starting with a new home page, and will update successive pages, as they become available. Come back and visit us again for further updates.
Last year, to complement and supplement the "No Home To Go To" exhibition, we launched a permanent website, displacedpersons.org. Designed and developed by our Board Member Sigita Balzekas, it features highlights of the DP exhibition and is intended to continue to collect the oral and written histories of displaced persons from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Our goal is to create such websites for all of our exhibitions. This is an exciting prospect, one which will further help us fulfill our important educational mission. We look forward to sharing the Museum's extensive collection of cultural artifacts, fine and folk art, maps, textiles, archival materials, armor, numismatics, philately, and numerous publications with those who may not have the opportunity to visit us in person. However, if you find yourselves in Chicago, we warmly welcome you to come in and say "Labas" and to spend some time at the Museum.
Reaching out, through on-line education and programs
Our goals are ambitious. Apart from a basic tour of our departments and regular updates on our programs, we would like to put more of our collection on line to make it accessible for anyone researching Lithuanian topics. Developing more educational outreach materials to deliver materials to teachers and students is another priority. The ability to embed audio and video clips in the web site is also very exciting, as the Museum has collected music, films and footage of many programs and events over the years. On-line interactive children's pages are another must to bring to life the museum's collections and programs for our younger visitors. A virtual Gift Shop is also being developed to make it easier to purchase amber, books, and other popular Lithuanian items on line. As we continue to grow this site, we turn again to you, our visitors, to let us know what improvements or additions you would like to see here.
Volunteers, members always welcome!
Any organization is only as great as the individuals who give it their ideas, time and energy. Over the years, the Balzekas Museum has been blessed with many talented volunteers, members and supporters who have helped grow the Museum into what it is today. If you live in the Chicago area and would like to volunteer your time at the Museum, please contact us and let us know. Wherever you are, we hope that you will consider becoming a member today.
Please visit us again soon.
Until we see you next time
Stanley Balzekas Jr.
The traveling exhibition “Lithuania: Culture and History” visited the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in December, 2009. The exhibition provides a vivid account of the most important events in the history and culture of this country. Having already been shown in Finland, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Brussels, and Paris, and the Czech Republic, this exhibition presents the most important periods in Lithuanian history: the old Lithuanian state (11th – 18th c.), the tsarist Russian occupation (19th c.), the independent Lithuanian Republic (1918–1940), fifty years of occupation (1940–1990), and the restoration of independent Lithuania (since 1990). The exhibition includes images of Lithuania, architectural masterpieces, portraits of important personalities, events, all of which convey Lithuania’s history and culture. The culmination of yearlong international festivities and events commemorating the 1000th anniversary of the first mention of Lithuania's name, this exhibition provides an overview of the historical events and figures that were instrumental to the evolution of the country.
The exhibition is based on the concept of the art historian Dr. Irena Vaišvilaitė. The authors of the exhibition are Romualdas Budrys, Dr. Vydas Dolinskas, and Mindaugas Šapoka. It was a joint project of the Lithuanian Art Museum and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. The iconography, images, and artefacts have been put together from many Lithuanian and international collections.