Catching up with the future

Photoreport: Construction of the MO Museum in Vilnius



By the end of this year, Vilnius’ new modern art museum, MO Museum, is slated to open; featuring the art collection of Viktoras Butkus and Danguole Butkiene, the building is the design of the world-famous architect Daniel Libeskind. 

More than ten years ago, the Lithuanian art scene was reanimated on the initiative of two people – Viktoras Butkus, a chemist and physicist, and his wife Danguole, a biologist – when they decided to create an art collection. In 2009 they founded the Modern Art Center Vilnius (MMC), now known as MO Museum, which up to this point has been operating as a ‘museum without walls’. The Butkuses procured the expertise of Ranita Jurėnaitė, a professor at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, who has now curated the collection for the last twenty years and has worked with the Butkus couple in expanding their assemblage of Lithuanian art created from 1960 to the present day. The greater aim of the collection is three-pronged: to present Lithuanian art created since the renewal of independence, to study how it has changed over time, and to illustrate the paths of Lithuanian artists who have made it onto the global art stage.

MMC visualisation. Publicity photo

Not long after the formation of MMC, the idea to create a museum arose. In 2015 the organization presented to the public their plan for constructing a new building next to the city’s Old Town, on the site of the former ‘Lietuva’ Cinema. The new museum has been designed by ‘starchitect’ Daniel Libeskind, author of several world architectural gems and one of the founders of the deconstructivist movement of the late 20th century. His most well-known projects include the Jewish Museum in Berlin (1999), the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (2003-2007), and the Imperial War Museum North in Greater Manchester, England (1997-2001). One of Libeskind’s most ambitious projects was his proposed modern extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum – The Spiral;  deemed to controversial, the project was abandoned in 2004.  

MMC visualisation. Publicity photo

The project for the MO Museum is being executed in cooperation with the Lithuanian architecture offices of Do architects. The building’s rectilinear facade will be covered with light-coloured concrete panels. One edge of the structure will feature a ‘cut-out’ symbolizing the cultural gate that joins the old city with the new building and the art collection within. A broad courtyard is also included in the plan. Viktoras Buktus has stated that the museum will not only be a venue for superior exhibitions, but also a legacy for the people of Lietuva: ‘Libeskind’s work is expressive, innovative, and, most importantly, has the power to tell the story of the past while connecting to the future of the city.’ Libeskind himself adds that the combination of the exceptional art collection and the building’s design will form a very special cultural centre. The MO Museum has already been recognized as a significant cultural object for Lithuania – a space for influential exhibitions and a place where one can learn something, relax, and simply pleasantly spend some time. presents a look at the building’s construction process.

MMC visualisation. Publicity photo

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