Unique cultural value will be kept at the Lithuanian National Museum of Art


2020 07 27

Prisikėlęs Kristus.jpg

Today, the Ministry of Culture presented the unique late Gothic (16th century) wooden sculpture “The Risen Christ” brought to Lithuania from Austria and handed it over to the Lithuanian National Museum of Art.

This movable cultural property, which was in the collection of a priest Ričardas Mikutavičius (1935–1998), was smuggled out of Lithuania in 2000–2001. After the priest’s death, the fate of this sculpture became unclear.

According to the Minister of Culture Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, today is a very significant day for the Lithuanian culture, which was the culmination of a process that lasted more than ten years. So much time has passed since the examination of the identification of the sculpture in the Austrian capital Vienna, which confirmed that it is a sought-after cultural property illegally exported from Lithuania.

“That process was long and complicated; it involved many cultural institutions of our country and our foreign diplomats. Through the joint efforts of all, this value is finally returning to Lithuania. I would like to thank all the institutions and the people who contributed to this event. I think that it is also a great, symbolic sign to commemorate the UNESCO World Heritage Year”, said Minister Kvietkauskas.

This is the first time that illegally removed cultural heritage property is returned to Lithuania (in accordance with the Council of Europe Directive 93/7 / EEC on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State).

According to the Vice Minister of Culture Ingrida Veliutė, the cultural value “The Risen Christ”, about which art historian Paulius Galaunė, the pioneer of professional museology, wrote in 1930, fell into the collection of General Vladas Nagevičius in 1928, so it was in Babtynas manor in Žemaitkiemis for some time. During the period from 1992 to 1996, it belonged to the priest Mikutavičius and it was given for restoration to the Pranas Gudynas Centre for Restoration at the Lithuanian Art Museum.

This recovery of lost Lithuanian cultural property symbolically coincides with the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which celebrates its 50th anniversary.