Lithuania. London. 1968.
The Odyssey of Lithuanian Design
National Gallery of Art, Vilnius
– 30 September 2018
The “Lithuania. London. 1968.” exhibition reconstructs the history of a Lithuanian pavilion exhibited in London in 1968 that symbolised success in culture, art, science, and industry.
After Lithuania was re-occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, the country lost its independence and became the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. Lithuania’s potential as a contemporary cultural nation was first appreciated when a pavilion was exhibited at the Earls Court exhibition and event centre in London in 1968 as part of a USSR propaganda event to highlight the country’s cultural, artistic, scientific, and industrial progress. The architect Tadas Baginskas developed the pavilion and combined the country’s ethnic symbolism with Western design standards. Remembering the city’s vitality and diverse art scene, some Lithuanian artists were permitted to travel to London for the exhibition. During the final days of the exhibition, the Soviet Union invaded Prague, whereupon Londoners protested against the exhibition organised by the Soviets in their city. Because of these circumstances, little attention was paid to the pavilion at the time. Thanks to witnesses’ accounts and artefacts, the museum in Vilnius has succeeded in reconstructing the history of the pavilion fifty years later with this exhibition.