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From 2012 to 2015, the Photography museum participated in the international Europeana Photography project, whose aim is to digitize and distribute old photographs taken during the first century of photography – from 1839 to 1939.
19 partners from 13 countries participated in the Europeana Photography project. Its activity in Lithuania was coordinated by the Lithuanian Museums’ Centre for Information, Digitization and LIMIS.
During the project, the employees of the Photography museum digitized the data of almost 3,000 old photographs and negatives from the museum’s funds, provided automated descriptions and published them in the most important European heritage portal “Europeana”.
Four valuable collections of the Photography museum and separate exhibits were digitized and submitted to Europeana.More
Most of the photographs selected for the project belong to the archive of Šiauliai Local Lore Association and were taken during the ethnographic expeditions of the time, but were not included in the archive.
The ethnographic archive consists of 89 files (15,851 page) and ethnographic surveys conducted in 1931–1942 with their answers (5,289 pages). This is a unique and nationally valuable documentary photography, depicting cultural characteristics that did not live to see our time. In 2006, the ethnographic archive of Šiauliai Local Lore Association was enlisted into the Lithuanian national register, which is part of the UNESCO program “Memory of the World”.
Šiauliai Local Lore Association was active during the 1927-1940 period. Material for the archive was collected during 1930-1943 expeditions to Lithuania’s ethnographic regions, mostly – in northern Lithuania and Samogitia (Žemaitija) (the western part). More than 7,500 photographs form the largest part of the archive. Their authors: Peliksas Bugailiškis, Balys Buračas, Vytautas Janavičius, Česlovas Liutikas, Stasys Daunys, Juozas Petrulis, Vladas Trinka, Stasys Vaitkus, Adomas Varnas, Vincas Vaitekūnas, Ignas Končius, among others. The photos depict panoramic images of villages and towns, smokey huts, homesteads, farm buildings (granaries, sheds, barns, threshing barns), steam baths, smithies, wells, wind and water mills, building constructions, elements of interior and home decoration, tools for farming and flax processing, characteristic images of people, families, calendar and church holidays, crosses, chapels, etc. Especially noteworthy images are aerial photographs with precise metrics and unique pictures taken by Prof. Ignas Končius that depict the life of Samogitians in the counties of Telšiai and Kretinga.
The photographs in the ethnographic archive have a great cultural and historical value for scientific research of the traditional culture at the early XX century.
In Lithuania, the year 2013 was designated to the 1863 Uprising. In commemoration of 150th anniversary of the Uprising, which is historically significant to Lithuania, Šiauliai “Aušros” museum digitized the museum’s material related to this event. One of the most valuable and remarkable groups of exhibits were the photographs of the time, related to the Uprising. We submitted 198 portraits from the late XIX century to the Europeana Photography project. They are one of the oldest and historically valuable exhibits in the Historical photography collection.
The photographs depict families and youth before the Uprising and insurgents in exile. There are also pictures of the Uprising itself, which is evident from the uniforms worn by the insurgents.
Photography was the means of preserving the images of these historical events. Loss or separation was a very familiar part of life, thus it was important to take pictures that were left to the relatives and future generations.
The photographs show the leaders of the Uprising – Fathers Konstantinas Kalinauskas, Zigmantas Sierakauskas, Antanas Mackevičius, and Boleslovas Dluskis. These portraits were copied and distributed among the insurgents. Many who fought against the tsar’s army carried the portraits in their pockets (the carte de visite format became popular at the time, as it was very well-suited for this purpose). The portraits uplifted the fighting spirit.
Some of them were sent from the insurgents’ places of exile as memorabilia.
The photographs of insurgents were taken by various authors. A small part of these authors worked in the current area of Lithuania, but mostly in various towns of the Russian empire, where the insurgents of the 1863 Uprising were commonly exiled. Some pictures were taken by Polish and French photographers, who captured the images of people that emigrated after the Uprising or were not granted a permission to return home.
The oldest exhibits of the collection of negatives at the Šiauliai “Aušros” museum are the glass negatives from the late XIX century that belonged to Aleksandras Jurašaitis (1859-1915), a photographer and zincographer, and were created in Belarus. A. Jurašaitis is thought to be the first Lithuanian photographer who photographed wild nature and animals (European bisons) in the Belovezh forest. As a military man, he had the permission to take pictures of the tsar and hunting trips and at that time he took the famous pictures of European bisons in the Belovezh forest.
The highlight of the collection of negatives is a valuable set of historical negatives that belonged to Juozapas Žiogas. The documentary images of these negatives depict the architecture, crosses, chapels, and landscapes of old (early XX century) Lithuanian villages. The author Father J. Žiogas was one of the first Lithuanian archaeologists, an ethnographer and a distributor of banned Lithuanian press. He collected folklore and folk songs, had an interest in ethnography, and participated in the Lithuanian national movement.