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Exhibition “Jonas Basanavičius´ Prague”

2018-11-22 to 2018-12-30

The Embassy of the Czech Republic in Vilnius, The City of Prague Museum, Lithuania Czech Society and Vilnius University Library are pleased to invite you at the opening of the exhibition “Jonas Basanavičius´ Prague” on Thursday, November 22 at 3.30 p.m. at the Gallery of Vilnius University Library (Universiteto 3, Vilnius).

The exhibition will be opened by the HE Czech Ambassador to Lithuania Vít Korselt and Director of Vilnius University Library Ph.Dr. Irena Kriviene. Jindřich Čeladín, author of the exhibition will talk about concept and creation of the exhibition, Ph.Dr. Eligijus Raila, Historian of the University of Vilnius will have a short speech on J. Basanavičius and Prague relations.

The exhibition is staged from November 22 until December 31, 2018.

The exhibition is on display in the Gallery of VU Central Library (Universiteto g. 3) until December 31th, 2018.

Jonas Basanavičius (23 November 1851–16 February 1927), the icon of the Lithuanian National Revival, spent almost two years in Prague, where he not only prepared and wrote a preface to the first Lithuanian journal "Aušra" (Auszra), but he also found there the love of his life, Gabriela Eleonora Mohl.

It is not a secret that Basanavičius was inspired by the Czech National Movement. Prague, just as Vilnius, was actually a provincial city. The Austrian Emperor lived in Vienna, where, as in the capital city of the Empire, the main government offices and the Parliament were located. Nevertheless, there was vigorous cultural and social life in Prague underlined with ongoing urban development. New bridges and railway stations were built, tram lines installed. Prague has become the third most important city in the whole monarchy after Vienna and Budapest. Czech public life was flourishing, new theaters, museums and cultural societies were mushrooming. A purposeful cultivation of sports in the second half of the 19th century, especially in an organized form, proved to be further enrichment of social life.

Basanavičius also observed that Czech, German, and partly Jewish subcultures can coexist alongside each other. He was convinced that such kind of coexistence might also work in Lithuania, where Lithuanian culture sphere could be established besides the prevailing Polish and Russian ones. He was longing for the same national institutions which Czech people established in the multinational Habsburg empire. However, he was aware of the fact that unlike the Russian tsarist autocracy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was already a functioning parliamentary state at that time. Despite these circumstances, the first edition of Aušra did successfully start the process of national revival.

The exhibition tries to capture the atmosphere of rapidly developing Prague at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries which inspired and influenced Jonas Basanavičius, the father of Lithuanian modern national culture.