M. K. Čiurlionis Route is the first project of the Lithuanian National Cultural Routes Program
The model for promoting cultural memory and cultural tourism, which has been refined as a cultural policy tool by the European Institute of Cultural Routes in Luxembourg, has been established and functioning particularly successfully in Europe for 50 years. European countries make particularly intensive use of the mechanism of the Cultural Routes as a catalyst for culture at national, regional and local levels. E.g. There are over 150 National Cultural Routes in Germany, connecting all the lands of the great state with strands of cultural memory, and in Spain, 130 National Cultural Routes meander through all regions of the country, actualizing the foundations of national culture and encouraging promotion of culture and promulgation of art. The Nordic countries also participate intensively in certified European Cultural Routes system coordinated by the Council of Europe’s Institute of Cultural Routes in Luxembourg, and initiate and implement National Cultural Routes. Poland, the Czech Republic and many Central and Western European countries showcase good practice in organizing Cultural Routes.
In Lithuania, fully fledged Cultural Routes have not yet been created, although there have been separate initiatives, but they have not developed into an instrument for the implementation of cultural policy in line with European Cultural Route practices. The regulations of the program of the 17th Government of the Republic of Lithuania and its aspirations to expand regional cultural services by creating European, national and regional Cultural Routes, to update and implement the Lithuanian Council for Culture’s program-competitive financing model by adapting it to advanced cultural services, and to strengthen community spirit by involving non-governmental organizations and communities in decision-making processes stimulated a more active stage in the development of Cultural Routes in Lithuania.
The first National Cultural Route M. K. Čiurlionis Route (hereafter – Čiurlionis Route) was launched in May 2019 as a project of cooperation of culture, education, cultural heritage and tourism. This cooperation emphasizes the importance of the personality of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, the foremost Lithuanian artist, composer and a figure of culture, and his work. Čiurlionis Route is organized and operates as an analogue of the National Routes of the Council of Europe’s Cultural Route system, which meets the requirements of cultural topography for National Cultural Routes.
Čiurlionis Route bases its activities on international and national strategic documents regulating the activities of cultural routes:
– The Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes, ratified by resolution (2013) 66 adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 18 December 2013;
– ICOMOS Charter on Cultural Routes, ratified by the 16th General Assembly of ICOMOS in Quebec (Canada) on 4 October 2008;
– The Concept of Development of Cultural Routes in Lithuania, approved by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and the Minister of Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania on 10 July 2019 by Order No. ĮV-471 / 4-416;
– Proposals for the formation and implementation of the National M. K. Čiurlionis Route, prepared by the working group formed by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania by Order No. ĮV-1140 of 29 November 2017 (version of 2 August 2019 of Order No. ĮV-522 of);
– Guidelines for Creators and Developers of Cultural Routes in Lithuania, prepared in 2019 by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania during the implementation of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism Bilateral Cooperation Fund project Cultural Routes for Regional Developments.
In the preparation of the cultural itinerary of Čiurlionis Route, the experience of European National Cultural Routes dedicated to artists was analysed and creatively applied: Goethe Route (Germany), Dali Route and Goya Route (Spain), Chopin Route (Poland), Ibsen Route (Norway), Jacob Route (Latvia) and models of National Cultural Routes of other countries.
Čiurlionis Route involves a full set of memorial objects, commemorative signs and places of life and work of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, an artist, composer and a figure of culture. The objects are linked in compliance with the criteria of personal cultural topography. Čiurlionis Route actualizes the signs of the artist’s life and work in cities of Vilnius, Kaunas, Druskininkai and Palanga, as well as Varėna, Rietavas and Plungė districts. The itinerary connecting the objects of Čiurlionis Route is about 500 km.
Čiurlionis Route acts as a permanent itinerary for visiting the objects. It consists of cultural memory institutions (museums as well as other institutions and organizations) that receive visitors at publicly announced times. To their visitors they present permanent expositions of
M. K. Čiurlionis’ works and the cultural context of his time as well as memorial venues, thematic informative exhibitions, organize special educational sessions and thematic tours of objects remindful of life and work of the artist and composer (facilitated by detailed maps of sites of interest regular excursions are organized: M.K. Čiurlionis’ Varėna; M.K. Čiurlionis’ Druskininkai; M.K. Čiurlionis’ Vilnius; M.K. Čiurlionis’ Kaunas; M.K. Čiurlionis’ Rietavas; M.K. Čiurlionis’ Plungė; M.K. Čiurlionis’ Palanga).
Partners of Čiurlionis Route as well as participating institutions and organizations also organize special Čiurlionis Route events: music festivals, creative camps, concert series, plein airs, art weeks, conferences and other cultural, artistic, educational and cultural tourism events. The most important events dedicated to the actualization of M. K. Čiurlionis’ works, organized annually or every few years, are: International Art Festival Druskininkai Summer with M. K. Čiurlionis (Druskininkai, Senoji Varėna (Old Varėna), Perloja, Merkinė, Liškiava); Summer of Piano Music at the M. K. Čiurlionis Memorial Museum in Druskininkai; International M. K. Čiurlionis Music Festival (Palanga, Vilnius), the International M. K. Čiurlionis Organ and Piano Competition (Vilnius), Sofija Festival (Kuliai, Plungė District), etc.
Čiurlionis Route is operated by the Lithuanian Museum Association. Čiurlionis Route is implemented by partners: the national institutions – the Lithuanian National Museum of Art (the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius and Amber Museum in Palanga) and M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum (Exposition of M. K. Čiurlionis Paintings and Graphic Works in Kaunas and M. K. Čiurlionis Memorial Museum in Druskininkai); the state institution – the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore; the municipal institutions – M. K. Čiurlionis House (Vilnius City Municipality); Druskininkai City Museum (Druskininkai Municipality), Rietavas Oginskiai Cultural History Museum (Rietavas Municipality), Samogitian Art Museum (Plungė District Municipality), Palanga Resort Museum (Palanga City Municipality), Varėna Cultural Centre (Varėna District Municipality); non-governmental organizations – Senoji Varėna (Old Varėna) St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Čiurlionis Society and its branches in Čiurlionis Route cities.
Project partners – national, state, municipal and non-governmental organizations – participating in Čiurlionis Route: the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society, the Lithuanian Musicians’ Support Foundation, the International M. K. Čiurlionis Organ and Piano Competition, PI Klasika.lt, PI Impetus musicus, PI Palanga Orchestra, PI Domus Alba, etc.
Partners of Čiurlionis Route and partners of their projects initiate and implement both joint national projects and local cultural activities. The first joint initiative of the institutions participating in the Čiurlionis National Route took place on 24–31 May 2019. The cultural topography project Čiurlionis’ Lithuania was held in Varėna, Druskininkai, Vilnius, Kaunas, Rietavas, Plungė and Palanga. The idea for this project was prompted by the cultural fact that on 24 May 1907 M. K. Čiurlionis together with his brothers Stasys and Jonas embarked a self-made boat to sail Nemunas river from Druskininkai to Jurbarkas, transporting the painting Šv. Rokas (St. Roch), which was commissioned by the priest of Jurbarkas parish to grace just about to be completed Neo-Gothic church (their trip by boat to Jurbarkas was successful, and they returned to Druskininkai by train during Whit Sunday.) The project Čiurlionis’ Lithuania launches a series of various cultural and artistic initiatives aiming to thoroughly prepare for the artist’s 150th birth anniversary in 2025.
Financial support for the creation and development of Čiurlionis Route in 2019–2021 is provided by the Lithuanian Council for Culture as well as municipalities of cities and districts, other institutions and organizations.
The national development of Čiurlionis Route encourages scientific and applied research, which should help to determine more precisely the genesis of objects important for Čiurlionis Route, specify the necessary data, and strengthen cultural ties.
In 2019–2022, Čiurlionis Route covers only in the territory of Lithuania. In 2023, an international itinerary was started to include M. Čiurlionis’ places of life and work in other countries (Leipzig (Germany); Warsaw (Poland), etc.).
The website of Čiurlionis Route www.ciurlioniokelias.lt, which you are visiting now, was created in 2019. The website provides an interactive map, itineraries, long-term continuous educational programs offered by the Route’s objects, as well as events and other important information for those traveling on Čiurlionis Route.