The Centre tells its visitors about the area, population, and sovereign power of the Lithuanian state. The exposition also gives an overview of the history of citizenship, the notion of citizenship and its active forms. The following permanent expositions: “Freedom to participate”, “Freedom to learn and be oneself”, “Freedom to agree”, “Freedom to decide and act”, “Freedom to cooperate” are displayed on three floors of the Centre.
There are changing exhibitions, too. Their exhibits, mainly works of art, are integral parts of the exposition and expand on the exhibitions. The exhibition “Freedom to create” displays the works by the winners of the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prize, thus attention to the importance of culture to the state. Installation “Pro-test Lab” by Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas focusses on art and political engagement. The exposition also features works of other modern artists: Eglė Kuckaitė, Kęstutis Grigaliūnas, Mindaugas Lukošaitis, and Audrius Novickas.
There is no state without citizens – people who live in the political community of the state, create and change it with their contributions every day. Every active citizen is a creator of his/her state. The exposition helps understand how the concept of citizenship has been changing and what it takes to be a citizen today.
Wishing to be an active participant in the life of the state, the citizen must know his/her rights and never forget his/her obligations. We are born as members of the community and acquire citizenship which translates into certain rights. We do matter in how they are fostered and exercised.
You will find possible forms of active citizenship described and several exemplifying cases from the recent past of Lithuania in the exposition. We must never tire of active engagement and seek for change if we want to improve the life of our fellow citizens. It was due to such citizens in Lithuanian history that we can enjoy freedom now.
For a state to exist, citizens have to consider themselves members of the state community, support their homeland’s sovereignty aspirations and agree on the rules of coexistence. The constitution enshrines a co-citizenship agreement on the principles applied to the life in a state. Each day, state-level discussions take place on how to reconcile our different interests and achieve the best possible results together under the guidance of the Constitution.
The permanent exposition explains how decisions are made by different public authorities, how the state machine functions, how the most essential principles of democracy (elections, separation of powers, party representation) are put into practice, and what is the role of citizens in the legislative and other decision-making processes.
The two conditions that underpin the existence of the Lithuanian state are the area of 65 thousand square kilometres and the population of almost three million. The state functions as long as it has its population, people with sovereignty vested in them, and the territory where they act. The exposition speaks about where we live, what we are like, and what collective memory we share.
Modern Lithuania has been created by people, who come from various places in it. Their identity has been shaped by the relationship with their homes, but this hasn’t restricted their mentality. The exposition invites its visitors to reflect on their personal bond with the territory of Lithuania and with their fellow citizens. Do we know our home well indeed? What is it that unites us with other people in Lithuania? What kind of creators of Lithuania do we want to be?
We invite you to explore the history of the Presidential Palace – the buildings which have witnessed political developments of the Lithuanian state for ages. For over 600 years, it was the place of residence and the place of work of bishops and governors-general and the place where kings, tsars and emperors used to stay. That is why the palace became the seat of the President of the Republic of Lithuania in 1997.
The President is the Head of State elected directly by the people of Lithuania and charged with the responsibility to protect and defend the interests of the Lithuanian state, represent Lithuania in its foreign relations, and care for all citizens of Lithuania as well as for their welfare.
The exposition tells how one can become President; what the President may and may not do; and how the institution of the President functions. You will also learn about the heads of state of the restored, independent state of Lithuania. There are exhibits that speak of state awards and decorations which may be awarded to honour Lithuanian and foreign citizens and of merits to the state of Lithuania that the nominees are judged on.
There are 193 Member States of the United Nations. Lithuania has diplomatic relations with 181 Members, thus it has to carry out its obligations under the legally binding mutual agreement to respect one another’s sovereignty and maintain relations in line with the principles of international law. When the Lithuanian Head of State pays visits to foreign countries, or when he/she receives foreign guests in Lithuania, one of the ways to show respect and strengthen mutual ties is an exchange of official gifts, which is a diplomatic tradition, with its roots in ancient civilisations, that paves the way for good mutual feelings between the heads of state and for introduction of their respective countries.
Gifts of State can vary greatly – from books and pieces of folk art to gemstone or golden jewellery. Exposed are the gifts that the Presidents of Lithuania received from their counterparts at bilateral meetings in foreign countries.
Would you like to live in a country where roads are excellent, where business and industry prosper, where new buildings are rising, where formal and natural sciences are responsibly taught, but… where there is no culture?
It is easy to imagine how empty, dismal, faceless and submissively ready for the coming and rooting of any alien culture it would be. Then strangers will gradually thrust their history, language, values and beauty criteria, and then their goals of life upon such a country. Lithuania experienced it before… The states, alien to Lithuania, repeatedly attempted at imposing their views and aspirations, and it was only thanks to vibrant culture that our country did not plunge into historic obscurity.
The essence of culture is most expressly and intensely revealed by art, by all of its forms – painting, sculpture, literature, film, music, theatre, etc. Works of art give plenty of aesthetic, emotional, intellectual experiences, therefore are instrumental in the life of the state and are inseparable parts of our lives.
Art helps us stand out as interesting, unique and exceptional in the broad global context. As for us as individuals, art helps us comprehend ourselves and solve existential dilemmas. Works of art are an indispensable condition for humane politics and successful business because everything – be it architecture, books, museum exhibitions, or brass bands playing in parks – becomes a unique sign of our country’s civilisation.
Artwork has become an integral part of the permanent exposition. It is displayed in four locations. The exhibition Freedom to Create features the winners of the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prize. A Walk in Siberia becomes a model of civil action. The exhibition Identity speaks of who we are, and the Scars of Memory represents historic memory that unites us.