Plans have been announced for a state-of-the-art Jewish museum slated to open in 2019 as part of the “Lost Shtetl” memorial complex at Šeduva, Lithuania.
The museum complex will be designed by the Finnish company “Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects,” which also designed the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. POLIN won the 2016 European Museum of the Year Award. They will be aided on the ground by a local partner, Studia2A, established in 1994 and headed by Vilnius Art Academy dean of Architecture Jonas Audejaitis.
The museum will be sited next to the sprawling Jewish cemetery at Šeduva, which was completely restored and opened in 2015 as part of the memorial complex. The complex also includes memorials at three sites of Holocaust mass executions and burials, and a symbolic sculpture in the middle of the town. A historical study about Šeduva Jews also was carried out as part of the project, as well as a documentary film, “Petrified Time,” directed by Saulius Berzinis.
Sergey Kanovich, the founder of the Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund, said the Lost Shtetl Museum — whose eventual construction was always included in plans for the complex — will employ advanced technologies to tell visitors about the history and culture of Šeduva and similar Litvak shtetls. It is expected to serve as an educational as well as cultural center.
“Visiting the ‘Lost Shtetl’ will be a history lesson which will allow national and international visitors to learn about the lost Litvak shtetl history and culture,” he said.
“Lifestyle, customs, religion, social, professional, and family life of Šeduva Jews will serve a centerpoint of the Museum exhibition,” he said. But visitors to Museum will also be educated about “the tragedy of Šeduva Jewish history which in the early days of World War II ended in three pits near the shtetl.”
Preliminary images show the museum as occupying an irregular, 2,700 square meter space across the road from the cemetery, and to take the form of several connected structures.
Rainer Mahlamäki, the architectural firm’s leading architect, said his work was inspired by ancient Lithuanian architecture as well as by the neighboring old Jewish cemetery and the rural landscape surrounding the site.
An international team will work on the interior design and the core exhibition, Kanovich said. The curator of the core exhibition will be Millda Jakulyte, with the aid of 12 international consultants from Israel, Germany, the United States, and Poland. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, the chief curator of the core exhibition of the POLIN museum, is among the advisors.
The interior design and advisory services will be provided by the New York based Ralph Appelbaum Associates, which has worked on numerous museums and memorials including the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. Management of the Museum construction will be entrusted to the Swiss-based company ECAS AG.
For more information contact:
Jonas Dovydaitis, Director of Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund: Tel. +370698 44 091