Have you ever dreamed of taking a walk with an artist and finding out the sources of their inspiration? Feel inspired by their muse? Find out what music fascinates them? The famous Lithuanian artist, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, has not been in the ranks of the living for a long time, but walking in the museum named after him gives you a feeling of being in his company. A visit to the museum is like retracing a path taken along a brilliant creator.


Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis was born in Varėna on 22 September 1875.  His parents were church organist Konstantinas Čiurlionis and Adelė Marija Magdalena Radmanaitė-Čiurlionienė, and he was the eldest of nine children.

  1. K. Čiurlionis graduated from Druskininkai Folk School in 1885. His father taught him to play the piano and organ. A close family, Dr Jozefas Markevičius (Markiewiczius), recommended him to Duke Mikolaj Oginski, who had a music school in Plungė, where Čiurlionis studied music theory and composed his first pieces of music. When he was sixteen, he learned to play the flute and performed in the manor orchestra’s concerts in Palanga, Riga and Rietavas.

In the autumn of 1903, he painted a cycle of seven paintings entitled, Funeral Symphony and also began to compose the symphonic poem The Sea. M. K. Čiurlionis later refused an offer from E. Mlynarski to teach at the Warsaw Music Institute so he could dedicate himself freely to his own study of art.

  1. K. Čiurlionis started to take a professional interest in art quite late; he began studying painting in Warsaw in 1902. However, he was disappointed with the academic painting programme. Being close to symbolism, he remained distinctly himself – more inclined to visual abstractions and philosophical generalisations. In addition to traditional painting genres, Čiurlionis invented new ones after attempting to convey the compositional structures of sonatas, preludes and fugues in the language of colours and images. M. K. Čiurlionis had good knowledge of the philosophical context of his time; he was acquainted with the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer. Čiurlionis’ work is full of motives of death, extinction and the fragility of life.

With more and more of his work exhibited, the artist constantly travelled, painted and created. He taught young talents privately, continued his studies at the School of Art, and started leading the choir of the Lithuanian self-help group in Warsaw.

The main characteristic of M. K. Čiurlionis is individualism. He seems to stand apart from all individualists, symbolists and impressionists. Through his work he paved the way for a new beautiful world, which was otherwise unknown to us.

Lithuania’s oldest museum of art came to fruition in 1921, when the Lithuanian Seimas passed a law to establish the M. K. Čiurlionis Gallery. Thanks to the efforts of Paulius Galaunė, a temporary Čiurlionis gallery was opened in Kaunas in December of 1925. On November 1 1936, the gallery was relocated to the newly built Kaunas History and Čiurlionis Art Museum palace.

The entire museum is permeated by the exceptional creative aura of Lithuania’s most renowned artist, writer, composer and public figure. The building’s architecture is a unique testament to the golden age of Kaunas – the Interwar Period. The building is unique in that it connects two different bodies into one – culture and war. The architecture of the National M. K. Čiurlionis Museum of Art also seems to represent the motifs of M. K. Čiurlionis’ paintings – the main facade is reminiscent of the symbolism of the crown, which is often noticeable in Čiurlionis’ work.

The M. K. Čiurlionis Museum of Art houses almost all the author’s works of art, manuscripts, and musical recordings created both in his early and late creative periods. It is the only place in the world where almost the entire legacy of the most famous Lithuanian artist, composer, writer and public figure M. K. Čiurlionis has been collected.

Visiting the museum allows one to expand their creative horizons and get acquainted with the artist’s most famous works. Starting with his first cycle of paintings, which includes Funeral Symphony, Para, and Flood; continuing with Sun, Spring, Sea, Summer, Pyramids, and Sonata of the Stars; and culminating in the painting Rex, which depicts a mystical king rising above earth and almost dissolving in space.

His paintings are melancholic and floating as if alive, with more subtle strokes, which are somewhat reminiscent of Salvador’s Dali work, in which the soul of the artist seems to have survived. Čiurlionis is considered to be the most famous Lithuanian artist and composer to have ever lived. Among his most famous musical works are the symphonic poems In the Forest and The Sea. His most popular works of art are the sonatas A Fairy Tale, Kings, Rex, Pyramids and Stars.

  1. K. Čiurlionis’ art rarely depends on historical context. Biblical and Christian motifs in his paintings intertwine with a broader worldview. There are works in whichthe meaning of national self-awareness is expressed in an artistic language, using folk art motifs or the symbolism of Vytis. The mythological tradition reaching archaic subconscious levels of the nation is revived in paintings like Samogitian Cemetery, Samogitian Chapel Columns, Thunder and Altar.

Visitors to the museum are encouraged to listen closely to what the ingenious artist wanted to convey through his music. M. K. Čiurlionis had a unique ear; therefore, great importance is attached to his musical legacy in the museum. The museum hosts the artist’s musical works; visitors can listen to a playlist of M. K. Čiurlionis’ most significant compositions in the music hall.

Most of the works celebrating the artist’s memory remain in Kaunas, where the museum named after him has the largest part of his creative legacy.