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Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History
Vilniaus Gaono Žydų Istorijos Muziejus



Published: 2020-10-30

 In October, 26 exceptional works of art from The Schatz House in Jerusalem reached the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History. The collection included such pieces of art as the heavy bas-relief Ninth Day of Av (1915), including memorial plaques and medals. The exhibition dedicated to the year of the Vilna Gaon and the history of the Jews in Lithuania ‘Boris Schatz: The Father of Israeli Art from Varniai’wascoordinated by Ieva Šadzevičienė, Head of the Tolerance Centre and Samuel Bak Museum, and curated by Dr. Jolanta Širkaitė, Deputy Director of the Lithuanian Culture Research Institute, who has also prepared the exhibition catalogue-book. The exhibition opened on 21 October 2020 at the Tolerance Centre of the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History.

The opening event was attended by the Ambassador of Israel to Lithuania Yossef Levy, the Ambassador of Germany to Lithuania Matthias Sonn, employees of cultural and research institutions, sponsors of the museum, and other distinguished guests. The director of the museum Dr. Kamilė Rupeikaitė thanked all the participants of the opening event and emphasised the contribution of Lithuanian Jews to culture: ‘Talented Lithuanian Jews, who at the end of the 19th century – the beginning of the 20th century and later spread around the world and got established in various countries, significantly contributed to the development of their art, culture and science, andhave become the connection of Lithuania to the world. In recent years, more and more talents born and raised on this land are returning to their homeland through their work.
In his welcoming speech to the guests of the opening event, the Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania Yossef Levy drew the visitors’ attention to the transformations characteristic of the artist's biography spanning from a religious Jew to an artist, and later to a follower of Zionist ideas. The ambassador emphasised that it is still an honour and prestige to study at the school named after Boris Schatz in Israel. Benjamin Jimmy Lewenshohn, Director of the Schatz House in Jerusalem, also took part in the event, although remotely, and thanked for the opportunity to renew the artist's connection with his homeland by at the same time giving the Lithuanian population the opportunity to get acquainted with Schatz's artwork.
The curator of the exhibition Dr. Jolanta Širkaitė told how the idea to organise an exhibition in Lithuania to present Schatz's artwork in his homeland was born, and how she established a contact with The Schatz House in Jerusalem thus enabling further cooperation. Širkaitė emphasized what a colourful and diverse personality of the 20th century Schatz was and presented the most important details of his biography, described the value of his works and the most important features of his artwork. The exhibition ‘Boris Schatz: The Father of Israeli Art from Varniai’ is unique not only for its exhibits, but also for its visual design solutions implemented with the contribution of the museum's artist Aleksandra Jacovskytė and designer Robertas Petravičius.
The exposition will stay open for visitors at the Tolerance Centre of VGMJH until 21 February 2021.
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