Nacionalinis M. K. Čiurlionio dailės muziejus
V. Putvinskio st. 55, LT-44248 Kaunas
Institution code 190755932
HISTORICAL PRESIDENTIAL PALACE OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
When Mrs. Flora Čechavičienė rented a plot of land from the Dominican monastery in 1844 in Kaunas and started building a living house there, it was beyond her imagination that one day high-ranking officials would live and visit it, and what significant decisions would be made there. The house, built according to the project of captain Fiodoras Vinteris, had been perfected and restored several times, was tenanted with different owners until it became the luxurious palace of the governor of Kaunas in 1866. During the First World War, the building was taken by the German occupation authorities. In 1915 and 1916, the German emperor Wilhelm II stayed there for a short time. When Kaunas became the provisional capital and the last representative of the German civil government Ludwig Zimmerle left the former governor’s palace, the President of the Republic of Lithuania moved into the building on 1 September 1919. The palace remained the Presidents’ residence until the Soviet occupation on 15 June 1940. During the interwar period, the house functioned as one of the most important centres of political life. All three presidents of Independent Lithuania worked and lived here: Antanas Smetona, Aleksandras Stulginskis, and Kazys Grinius. This was the venue for meetings and official receptions, foreign envoys presented their credentials here, many impressive public holidays were celebrated in the garden. The walls of the palace testify to a lot of joyful and dramatic events (the military coup of 1926, deliberations of the ultimatums from Poland, Germany, and the Soviet Union).
Soon after the war, the Pioneer House started operating in the building, from 1955 it was allocated to the Teachers’ House. At the end of 1989, the Kaunas State Museum of History (now Vytautas the Great War Museum) was established there. In 1996, bronze monuments to three interwar presidents were set up in the museum’s garden space: to Antanas Smetona (by Alfonsas Vaura), to Kazys Griniųs (by Stasys Žirgulis), and to Aleksandras Stulginskis (by Vytautas Narutis). From 1998 to 2003 the building was put under renovation. After the Vytautas the Great War Museum had been taken over by the Ministry of National Defense, the Historical Presidential Palace accommodated the Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania in 2004. On 1 July 2005, the palace was transferred to the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art.
Established in the historical palace, the branch of M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art helps visitors get an insight into the history of the modern Lithuanian state and fosters pride in its past. Through permanent displays and temporary exhibitions, significant events, talks, educational activities and publications the museum specialists share engaging stories with the public. The permanent exhibit was arranged in cooperation with the Vytautas the Great War Museum. In order to raise the awareness of the history of the President’s institution, the provisional capital, and the development of Lithuanian society the museum associates continually engage in important research, prepare stories about the Presidents of the First Republic of Lithuania and other statesmen of that time. Visitors are provided here with vast knowledge on Kaunas which from the town of Russian Empire became a modern capital in the span of only two decades, also, they are acquainted with the determinants that helped the state strengthen and mature such a strong patriotism of its citizens so that even the Soviet occupation that lasted for almost fifty years was not able to overcome it.