THE EXHIBITION “THE GREAT GIFT TO LITHUANIA”

Historical Presidential Palace of the Republic of Lithuania

To mention the 125th anniversary of A. M. Račkus, as well as with due regard to the resolution of the Seimas of Lithuania to announce the year 2019 the Year of the World Lithuanians, the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art which houses these significant collections opens the exhibition The Great Gift to Lithuania. Two collections will be shown. One of them will represent the numismatic valuables collected by A. M. Račkus – among the most interesting exhibits: rare coins of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and other nations of the world, valuable medals, exotic items and rare Lithuanian and numismatic books. In the second part of the exhibition, due to unique exhibits representing Lithuania visitors will have the opportunity to get acquainted with the social life of the American Lithuanians of the 1860s – 1930s and their contribution to the restoration and consolidation of the state of Lithuania.

A. M. Račkus not only collected the relics of American Lithuanians, but also was greatly concerned about the history of Lithuania, so he became one of the most active members of the Lithuanian Numismatic and Historical Society established in 1917 in Chicago. The accumulation of Lithuanian antiquities and testimonies significant for the history of the USA Lithuanians was the main goal of this society.

The passion for collecting did not blush, on the contrary, it grew ever since. A. M. Račkus’ personal collection was increasing in antiquities of different countries, and in the numismatic values in particular. A. M. Račkus was admitted to the American Numismatic Association, the Chicago Coin Club, the Numismatic and Archeological Society (Towarzystwo Numizmatyczno-Archeologiczne) in Krakow.

In 1935 the first Congress of the Lithuanians of the World was held in Kaunas. On this occasion and at the invitation of the Society for the Support of Foreign Lithuanians A. M. Račkus brought the collection of the Lithuanian Numismatic and Historical Society and his own collection. Two big exhibitions were organized at the Vytautas Magnus University and the Vytautas Magnus Museum. After the exhibition, the Ministry of Education purchased both collections (including more than 50,000 exhibits) for much less than the fair value (100,000 litas). The main part of this collection was passed over to the Vytautas the Great Culture Museum.