The Čiurlionis Way in the Context of the 100th and 150th Anniversaries of the Artist
Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis
Keywords:Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, anniversary, Varėna, Druskininkai, Čiurlionis Way, monument
Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911) is the most famous Lithuanian artist and a much-celebrated Lithuanian culture icon. This publi- cation discusses the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Čiurlionis’s birth in 1975, and the preparations taken for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth.
In commemoration of the centenary of Čiurlionis’s birth, in addition to the usual commemorative events, such as concerts, exhibitions, scientific conferences, and memorial evenings, the artist was more permanently memo- rialized: a series of wooden sculptures “The Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis Way” was installed en route from Senoji Varėna to Druskininkai. The sculptures were produced during creative residencies held in Perloja in 1975 and in Merkinė in 1976 by 26 talented folk artists (wood carvers, blacksmiths, and painters). They created 24 monumental sculptures and wayside shrines as their personal interpretations and reflections on Čiurlionis’s work, which were built along the road from Senoji Varėna to Druskininkai. In the same year, a monument to Čiurlionis by the sculptor Vladas Vildžiūnas was erected in Druskininkai, and a bust of Čiurlionis by the sculptor Kazimieras Švažas was built in the courtyard of the Čiurlionis Memorial Museum. A comprehensive publication Čiurlioniui 100 published in 1977 offered an overview of the main events of this jubilee year not only in Lithuania, but also in the then-Soviet Union and around the world.
In 2025, Čiurlionis’s 150th birthday will be celebrated. In order to ac- tualize the memory of the creator in a modern way, preparations have already started. In 2017, a working group was set up at the Ministry of Culture to develop the concept of the first national cultural route – The Čiurlionis Way. The plan is to have the Čiurlionis Way meandering through Lithuania, and connecting various places related to the artist’s life and work. The main land- marks of the way are Varėna, Druskininkai, Vilnius, Kaunas, Rietavas, Plungė, and Palanga. In addition, the plan is to extend this national route to include Poland, Germany, Russia, and other countries related to the artist by 2025. In 2019, a website with an interactive map was launched for the Čiurlionis Way (www.ciurlioniokelias.lt) in an effort to present the personality of the creator as widely and comprehensively as possible to a wider audience. The website offers the basic concentrated information about Čiurlionis, his works, and on- going events, while its main goal is to encourage people to travel according to the cultural topography map and personally experience the genius loci of the places where Čiurlionis lived or which he visited. The article explains if there have been noticeable changes in the organization of Čiurlionis’s anniversary celebrations over the past 50 years, and discusses some of the new, as well as persisting, challenges encountered in this process.