MO Museum

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MO Museum
EstablishedOctober 18, 2018; 20 months ago (2018-10-18)
LocationPylimo str. 17, Vilnius
Coordinates54°40′46″N 25°16′40″E / 54.679470°N 25.277744°E / 54.679470; 25.277744
DirectorMilda Ivanauskienė

MO Museum is a modern art museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. As a private initiative of Lithuanian scientists and philanthropists Danguolė Butkienė and Viktoras Butkus, it functioned as an art museum without walls for about ten years. The collection of 5,000 modern and contemporary pieces contains major Lithuanian artworks from the 1950s to this day.

The museum was opened for the public on 18 October 2018 in the building designed by Studio Libeskind and the team of Lithuanian architects Do Architects.[1][2] Total building floor area: 3100 sq.m., height: 17 m.[3] Architect Daniel Libeskind admitted that although it is his smallest project it is also one of his favorites, and also noted that he used circular form in it for the first time in his career (spiral staircase in the interior).[4] Italian news agency ANSA included Mo Museum into Top 10 21st century museums to visit.[5] Museum hosts numerous exhibitions, film screenings, educational workshops, concerts and other cultural events, which are intended for various age groups.[6]

MO Museum, entrance

Prehistory of MO Museum[edit]

History of MO. MMC[edit]

MO began its work in 2008, when the founders of the museum Viktoras and Danguolė Bukai started their own art collection. Art expert Raminta Jurėnaitė and other art critics agreed to assist with the collection of Lithuanian artworks, which are dated from the 1960s to the present day. The significance of MO’s collection is distinguished through its reflectance of Lithuanian culture’s modernization in the beginning of 1960s as well as slow but continuing cultural liberation, which began after the Stalin era had ended. [7]

Modern Art Centre (MMC) was founded in 2009 with the intention to open a museum in the future. The active collection of artworks, that was organized by MMC, received more attention from the public which helped raise the interest of collectors and, thus, assisted in creation of art market and the recovery of arts field in Lithuania. [8]

MMC was orientated not only towards the collection of artworks but education as well. For this reason, they started publishing art books with the intention to contribute to Lithuanian education system. Many books on artists and art history by exceptional foreign writers were picked and published for children. The list of published books also included translated books for youth and adults as well as albums of great Lithuanian painting artworks, that were formed by modernists Arvydas Šaltenis and Kostas Dereškevičius. Later books on MO’s collection as well as graphic artworks were published. MMC published over 30 various artbooks for children and adults by the time MO Museum opened in 2018. [9]

MO Museum is situated in a historically and culturally significant location in Vilnius city. The defensive embankment of Vilnius is thought to have been standing in the location of MO Museum in the 14th century while the gates of Trakai were built there as a part of a defense wall in the 16th century. Vingriai, which is located next to the museum, was the main Vilnius’ water source, which was open until the 19th century. “Lietuvos” cinema was build in this location in 1965, which later became a culturally important space for the city and provided culture for its people until 2005. [10]

The construction of MO Museum, which was funded by Viktoras and Danguolė Butkai, began in the location of “Lietuvos” cinema in April, 2017. [11] It was the first cultural patronage project of such large volume in the independent Republic of Lithuania as well as the only private museum of such great scale. [12]

Art Collection of MO Museum[edit]

MO Museum’s collection is one of the biggest private collections in Lithuania, which was announced to be of national significance in 2011. [13] The core of the collection are large sets of painting, graphic, photography and video artworks with additional sets of sculpture and interdisciplinary (performance, installation, etc.) artworks. This collection and its context is the base of Lithuanian modern and contemporary art development. [14]

A part of MO’s collection is art that was ideologically rejected during the Soviet times and received no attention from the greatest museums in Lithuania because of the political views at that time. The collection introduces those artists who started creating after Lithuania had restored its independence as well. Many of those creators are still working to this day and are well-known artists both in Lithuania and worldwide.[15]

MO Museum’s collection can be found online at, where numerous reproductions and pictures of artworks, that were purchased by MO, are published with additional describtions, visual and audio materials. Texts of various art critics talk about artists’ and their work while audioguides and describtions introduce the viewer to the art itself.[16]

History of MO culture[edit]

A new project “History of culture” was launched in 2011 in order to gain a better understanding of the context of Mo’s art collection. [17] The main aim of the project is to educate and introduce the public to the Lithuanian cultural field. It also encourages new researches as well as publishing of new, specialised in art writings.

The history of Lithuanian culture, which has been digitised, can be found at or while using computers at the reading room of Mo Museum.

11 different forms of culture are thoroughly introduced on the online page of “History of culture“: fine art, literature, theatre, applied arts, scenography, dance, design, architecture, photography, film and music. [18]

Architecture of MO Museum[edit]

The building, which MO Museum is situated in, was designed by a well-known American architect Daniel Libeskind. The greatest works of his include: the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Denver Art Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, Museum of Military History in Dresden and others. D. Libeskind is also the head architect of the rebuilt One World Trade Center.[19]

The design project of MO Museum building was implemented in partnership with “Studio Libeskind”, which is a renowned architecture studio, as well as Lithuanian architecture office “DO architects”. This project was the first one in collaboration with “Studio Libeskind” in the Baltic states. [20]

The main aim of building MO Museum was to establish symbolic cultural gates that lead from the medieval Old Town to the modern New Town of 18th century.[21] Mo Museum also revived one of the culturally iconic spaces of Vilnius, in which “Lietuvos” cinema was situated. [22]

Demolition of “Lietuvos” cinema was started in February, 2017. [23] Construction of MO Museum was started later that same year with a symbolic act of a time capsule being buried under the museum. [24]

The premises of MO Museum are meant to accommodate anyone’s interests and wishes to spend leisure time in various ways. The entrance hall with an events hall, the gift shop as well as the restaurant “MO Bistro” are located on the first floor, the small exhibition room as well as the reading room on the second floor while the main exhibition room is located on the third floor. One of the most important architectural details of the museum is the spiral staircase, which often tends to be captured by various photographers as well as links the museum with the past experiences of its founders. [25]

The museum also holds premises for the public to relax at. The sculpture garden as well as the terrace are located next to the museum and are always open for the guests. [26]

Art Collection of MO Museum[edit]

The collection of Mo Museum is composed from numerous Lithuanian and locally living modern artists’ pieces, which are dated from 1960s and the period of “thaw” to the present day and the culture of independent Lithuania. [27]


The core of the collection is painting, which there are around 250 different artists’ works of. The collection dates back to the modern period of interwar and consists of works of modern interwar painters such as Antanas Gudaitis, Leonas Katinas, Algirdas Petrulis. It goes on to showcase the counter-socrealist, colorful, expressive and decorative painting of 1970s creators such as Jonas Švažas, Vincas Kisarauskas, Vincentas Gečoir and others. Artworks of 1980s follow as neoexpressionist painting of artists such as Antanas Martinaitis, Algimantas Jonas Kuras, Kostas Dereškevičius and others. The collection also consists of abstract painting, which was created by Linas Katinas, Eugenijus Cukermanas and Laima Drazdauskaitė. Mo Museum holds pieces of 1990s’ neoexpressionists Alfonsas Vilpišauskas, Arūnas Vaitkūnas, Jonas Gasiūno and others as well. Artworks, that were created within the last two decades, are expressionist Alonas Štelmanas, realistic Jovita Aukštikalnytė, neoromantic Patricija Jurkšaitytė and Eglė Gineitytė, neo-academist Paulius Juška and Žygimantas Augustinas, conceptual variations of realist Eglė Ridikaitė and Agnė Jonkutė painting.

Graphics and Photography

Graphic art as well as photography, that are a part of MO‘s collection, are dated from 1960s to the works of the present day. It includes the humanist works of school photographers Antanas Sutkus, Aleksandras Macijauskas, Romualdas Rakauskas while Alfonsas Budvytis and Vytautas Balčytis are representatives of later generations.

Video art

The collection of video art contains documentary works, that were made while using strategies of social studies (Artūras Raila, Robertas Antinis), as well as interpretations of individual surrealist reality (Jurga Barilaitė, Evaldas Jansas, Svajonė and Paulius Stanikai).


Numerous pieces of sculpture and object are a part of museum‘s sculpture fund. It includes artworks of Petras Mazūra, Mindaugas Navakas and Gediminas Akstinas.

Artists of the Young Generation

The collection also holds various artworks made by the artists of the young generation (Andrius Zakarauskas, Linas Jusionis, Adomo Danusevičius, Eglė Karpavičiūtė, Monika Furmanavičiūtė and others). These have received positive feedback from the public and approval from numerous art critics.

Art critic Raminta Jurenaite helps gather the collection of MO Museum with the assistance of recommendations that were made by other art critics. All the works in the collection are professionally restored and safely stored in one of the MO‘s vaults.

Presentation and publicity of the artworks is a priority of MO Museum. Therefore, interviews are often conducted with the artists as well as audioguides are created and recorder. All information on the museum and its activities can be found at [28]

Projects of MO Museum[edit]

Literatų street

The project of “Literatų street“ was implemented in partnership with a curator Eglė Vertelkaitė as well as over a 100 of different artists in the Old Town of Vilnius. More than 200 plates, made by different artists, were installed on the wall of Literatų street to represent the wide prospect of Lithuanian literature.[29] More information on the project and its artists‘ works can be found in a book „Literatų street. Kuktūrinis gidas“ (2014), which was assembled and written by Milda Ivanauskienė, the director of MO Museum.[30][31]

Vilniaus talking statutes

Mo Museum released a cultural guide “The path of Vilnius statues” to help the public get to know the capital through introduction to sculptures and monuments of Vilnius. [32] The idea was renewed in 2015 by introducing a project “Vilnius talking statues”, when 15 of local statues were made interactive. This way Vilnius became the fourth city in the international project, amongst other world’s megalopolises such as New York or Copenhagen. Audios’ texts on sculptures were written by famous Lithuanian writers and red to record by professional actors. [33][34]

The history of culture

The ambitious project “The history of culture”, which included history on modernization of Lithuanian art, photography, scenography, literature, film, music and other fields of culture, was introduced in 2010. The unique archive of Lithuanian culture history was prepared in partnership with Lithuanian art critics, historians and theorists of culture, architecture and literature. This project is designated to be of use not only for researchers of various fields of culture but for teachers, students and pupils as well.[35]

Laboratory of art

An unusual project, dedicated for management of personnel, “Laboratory of art” was implemented in collaboration with a modern biotechnology company “Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics” in 2016. Participants visited workspaces of the artists, attended creative workshops prepared by art critics, were introduced to the specifics of MO Museum’s vaults. 3 month-long partnership with “Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics” resulted in an exhibition “Bridges”, which was curated by 16 scientists from various fields such as scientific research, manufacture and administration. [36]

Travelling museum

The team of MO Museum visited over a couple of tens of schools and communities in Vilnius with the project “Travelling museum” in 2010. They attempted to achieve a different point of view towards creativity, arts education as well as the relationship between arts world and the lifestyle of people. The team conducted numerous lessons and meetings during which the participants were able to get to know the Lithuanian culture in non-traditional forms and ways.[37]


  1. ^ "MO Museum of Modern Art / Studio Libeskind". ArchDaily. 2018-10-23. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  2. ^ "Studio Libeskind Designs a Bold New Art Museum for Vilnius". Metropolis. 2018-10-18. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  3. ^ "MO Modern Art Museum". Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  4. ^ "D.Libeskindas „MO muziejuje" išbandė sau naują formą: kitur tokios nėra projektavęs". (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  5. ^ "10 musei d'arte contemporanea da Bilbao a Roma". (in Italian). Retrieved 26 July 2019.
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  7. ^ Narbutienė, D., Paberžytė, U., ir Stasevičiūtė, I. (Red.) (2018). MO muziejus. Vilnius: MO muziejus.
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  9. ^ Narbutienė, D., Paberžytė, U., ir Stasevičiūtė, I. (Red.) (2018). MO muziejus. Vilnius: MO muziejus.
  10. ^ Narbutienė, D., Paberžytė, U., ir Stasevičiūtė, I. (Red.) (2018). MO muziejus. Vilnius: MO muziejus.
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