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On 4 February, the exhibition “The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and its Reconstruction” was opened and an international seminar was held for this occasion at the Army Museum in Stockholm.
Grand Dukes Palace of Lithuania exhibition in Stockholm. Photo courtesy of the Lithuanian Embassy in Sweden
Grand Dukes Palace of Lithuania exhibition in Stockholm. Photo courtesy of the Lithuanian Embassy in Sweden

Seminar and exhibition were arranged by the joint efforts of the Lithuanian Embassy in Sweden, the Palace of the Grand Dukes in Vilnius, the Army Museum in Stockholm, and the Lithuanian Institute of Culture.

During the opening of the exhibition Lithuanian Ambassador to Sweden Eitvydas Bajarūnas stressed that this exhibition and the visit of the representatives of the Palace of the Grand Dukes are significant contribution to strengthening the Lithuanian and Swedish cultural cooperation in the field of historical heritage. Director of the Army Museum Eva-Sofi Ernstell was also present at the opening.

Broader context of the restoration of the Palace of the Grand Dukes, its meaning for Lithuania and beyond, and its collections were presented during the seminar held at the same day. At the same time, representatives of the Army Museum in Stockholm spoke about the collection of artifacts of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania held in their museum. Historians and experts of Lithuania and Sweden spoke about historical and cultural links between Lithuania and Sweden sa well as. Presentations were made by the representatives of the Palace of the Grand Dukes Povilas Blaževičius, Eimantas Gudas, Associate Professor of Södertörn and Stockholm Universities Andrej Kotljarchuk, and the collaborators of the Army Museum Per Sandin and Karin Tetteris.

The exhibition presenting the Palace of the Grand Dukes will be running until 9th of March at Army Museum and consists of 17 billboards. They provide a quick overview of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania historical development from ancient times to the restoration of statehooh. The major focus is concentrated on the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries when Gothic castle was erected and formed by Lithuanian Grand Dukes Gediminas, Algirdas, Jogaila, Vytautas, and also by Casimir and Alexander Jagiellonians. Exposition also includes information of early Renaissance and Baroque palace, which at the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was built and expanded by Sigismund the Old, Bona Sforza, Sigismund Augustus, and by the rulers Vasa dynasty.

The Palace of the Grand Dukes story is presented in a broader historical, cultural and artistic context of the development of Lithuanian state. Each ruler is characterized by showing it's specific contribution to the Palace development. The exhibition is also reflects the Palace’s devastation, destruction and recovery processes from the mid-seventeenth century until the beginning of the twenty-first century. It contains information about the Palace’s archaeological research, on the very idea of restoring the palace and its realization.

The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania has great symbolic value to the relations between Lithuania, Sweden and Poland and their dynasties – the Jagiellon and the Vasa. On October 4, 1562 the marriage of Catherine Jagiellon (1526–1583), the sister of the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund Augustus, to the Duke of Finland John Vasa (1537–1592) took place. The marriage, which took place in Vilnius Cathedral, was celebrated in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. This marriage embodied the kinship tie and union between two dynasties - the Jagiellonian and the Vasa, not only during the hard-fought Livonian War (1558 –1584), but also, 16 years later, upon the transfer of the monarchic rule of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to members of the Vasa dynasty: Sigismund III Vasa (1587 –1632), Wladyslaw IV Vasa (1632 –1648), and John II Casimir Vasa (1648 –1668).

The representatives of the Palace of the Grand Dukes also visited other Swedish museums and castles in Uppsala, Gripsholm, Skokloster, Stockholm. Among them – the Vasa Museum, the Royal Armoury, and the Museum of History of Sweden. During meetings with representatives of museums wider cooperation, future joint projects, and the possibility of exchange of collections and specialists were discussed. It was agreed that delegation of Gripsholm museum is going to visit Lithuania alerady within this year.

Grand Dukes Palace of Lithuania exhibition  in Stockholm. Photo courtesy of the Lithuanian Embassy in Sweden
Grand Dukes Palace of Lithuania exhibition in Stockholm. Photo courtesy of the Lithuanian Embassy in Sweden

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