The Valdas Adamkus Presidential Library-Museum – the first of its kind in Lithuania and the third in Europe – was opened in Kaunas in April 2016. As the President Valdas Adamkus, one of the most important Lithuanian leaders of the XX century, has turned 90 on the 3rd of November, we’ve decided to give you a tour of the museum. The institution follows an example set in the United States, where the legacy of former presidents is preserved and kept alive in presidential libraries readily accessible to scholars, students, and the general public.
Why Kaunas, you might ask? Valdas Adamkus was born here in 1926. During World War II, he was involved in the resistance movement for Lithuania ‘s independence. Valdas Adamkus fled to Germany with his parents in July 1944 and later relocated to United States where he married Alma Nutautaitė and graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology, with a degree in civil engineering. He then worked for the US Environment Protection Agency and was always active in public and political life of the Lithuanian expatriate community.
Since 1972, Valdas Adamkus had been visiting Lithuania once or several times a year. Encouraging and supporting construction of water treatment facilities and development of environmental monitoring, Valdas Adamkus assisted environmental institutions of the Baltic States with academic literature, equipment and software supply.
In 1998, Valdas Adamkus was elected President of the Republic of Lithuania. He assumed the office on February 26, 1998. President Adamkus promoted the idea of rapid modernisation of Lithuania and worked consistently towards its implementation.
In 2002, Valdas Adamkus ran in the presidential elections for another term, in the second round, however, he lost to Rolandas Paksas. In 2004, following the removal of Rolandas Paksas from the Office of the President by the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus again ran in the presidential elections and was re-elected. During his second term, President of the Republic was committed to create European wellbeing in every Lithuanian home and to guarantee that there is not a single abandoned person in Lithuania.
All of the above and much more is presented in the Presidential Library-Museum that opened its doors in a building that functioned as a Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the interwar period. The ground floor is the library itself, full of books from the personal library of Valdas and Alma Adamkus and various other institutions dedicated to the preservation of the Lithuanian spirit and image. Upstairs you’ll find a gallery of art owned by the Adamkus family, such as numerous portraits of the President and the First Lady (she's one of the most stylish and elegant Lithuanians ever!) and a vast collection of Lithuanian modern art.
As Valdas Adamkus is the Honorary Doctor of universities in Lithuania and other countries, a hall is dedicated for the diplomas and togas worn for the reason. You can also visit a hall full of highest-class state decorations of various countries, including the Golden Collar of the City of Athens, the Order of Iron Wolf of the Lithuanian Scouts Union, the Order of Star of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union and the International Olympic Committee Award for Sport and Promotion of Olympism.
In the perfectly restored (the renovation of the building was awarded with a prize) premises there’s also space for various events such as lectures or discussions. In the future, rooms recreating President Adamkus‘s office and depicting episodes of his working life in politics, civic and community affairs, culture, and sports, with personal memorabilia, office equipment, and furniture used by Alma and Valdas Adamkus will also be open for public.
The founders of the Presidential Library-Museum are Valdas Adamkus, Kaunas City Municipality and Vytautas Magnus University. Many American Lithuanians and institutions can be found in the ever-growing donor list – a dedicated team the project wouldn’t be possible without.
The Valdas Adamkus Presidential Library-Museum can be found on S. Daukanto g. 25. You are advised to schedule a visit beforehand but if there’s a public event announced you are most definitely invited to come and join it – and use the chance to visit the museum.
Photos by Teodoras Biliūnas