Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts (Latvia) and Panevezys Local Lore Museum (Lithuania) joint virtual exhibition – communication.


Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts


Whether we like it or not, nowadays we find out about events in other countries and even other continents with a delay of a few hours, sometimes even minutes, whereas in the past it was a matter of weeks or even months. Along with humanity, its means of communication have also developed, proving several times in the course of history the importance of timely exchange of information, which is the decisive factor in many events. This statement also proved itself in the events of the Third Awakening (Atmoda) in Latvia, allowing people to organize themselves in the difficult struggle for the Latvia’s independence.


1. A letter from Jānis Erts, a worker at the Preili Cheese Factory, to his wife about his going to the barricades in Riga. January 1991. In the context of the events of the Awakening, when mobile phones did not exist, but people had to reckon with the shortcomings of fixed, home telephones, a note similar to the content of a text message left in a hurry was much more important than it seems at first.


It informed those who had stayed at home about the location and the range of people he had left with, all to calm down those who had stayed at home during the January 1991 barricades.



2. Juris Brics radio "VEF 202". 1970’s. During the Awakening, one of the main sources of current information was radio. With receivers, people listened to the latest news, analytical and music programs, sports, and often banned Western radio waves.


Radio, compared to the print press and television, was more difficult to control, so despite the disruption of Soviet censors, there were radio stories and broadcasts prepared by various Latvian journalists, through which the winds of the Awakening flowed.


This is how the radio device “VEF 202” purchased in the Preiļi store in the 1970s was used. With the help of this radio Juris Brics (1943-1994), an activist of the Latvian People's Front (Latvijas Tautas fronte – LTF) and later the chairman of the executive committee of the Preili City Council, followed events in the world, listened to the LTF congress, even taking part in the Baltic Road campaign in 1989.




3. Video cassette. Preili TV. November - December 1990. The role of television also increased significantly during the Awakening, especially in what we now call regional television. Using the power of local TV towers and empty moments on the air, local journalists, video professionals and enthusiasts created TV stories and used the main television trump card - the ability not only to talk about problems, but to show them! In this way, regionally significant video stories were created - reflections on cultural events, construction works and socio - political events and problems.


For example, the video cassette of the Preiļi TV about November-December 1990 contains a story of November 22 about the pollution caused by the Preiļi Starch Plant, discharging dirty processing waters into the channels of Preiļi Park. During the plot, TV journalists not only show the pollution, but also interview the workers involved and call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.




Panevėžys Local Lore museum


Collections of the Panevėžys Local Lore Museum contains various means of communication between people from different periods: letters, greeting cards, business cards, telephones, radios, televisions, etc. Three means of communication are presented.


The introduction of the landline telephone in the late 19th century has undoubtedly replaced traditional communication, saved time, and accelerated communication, and the rapid technological development of the telephone confirms its necessity.


One of the oldest ways to communicate is through correspondence. Survived letters are also one of the sources of history. The tradition of writing paper letters, which is gradually being forgotten, leaves behind the immortal heritage of history – the letters written by famous personalities hundreds of years ago.


Photography, which became popular in the second half of the 19th century, became another form of human communication. In the 19th century, the functions of photography, as a means of communication, were changing. People used to communicate with the photographer when they were coming to take a portrait, also used to communicate with friends by giving them their image or viewing photo albums. Photography also has another function – it captures the communication between people and documents its forms, which changes over time.


1. Telephone. Early 20th century. Photo of G. Kartanas. First telephones were installed in Panevėžys in 1901. This device was installed in the premises of the Panevėžys Mutual Credit Society and is one of the first used in our city. Initially, telephone lines were built chaotically. As the number of telephone lines increased it became necessary to install a telephone network in Panevėžys. The initiative was taken by the city municipality, which in 1911 installed a telephone switchboard on its premises for a hundred numbers. In 1912, the second switch of one hundred numbers was built. After a couple of years his reserves were also almost depleted. Then we started thinking seriously about switching to a thousand numbers. Of course, the phone was not yet a tool for everyday use at the time, but institutions, larger businessmen, and doctors used it often. 



2. Vydūnas' congratulatory letter to Gabriele Petkevičaitė-Bite. Tilsit, 1936 March 18. In the letter, the philosopher, writer, cultural figure, musician, pedagogue Vydūnas (Vilhelmas Storosta) congratulates the respected writer, politician, public figure, pedagogue, philanthropist G. Petkevičaitė-Bitė for the occasion of her 75th anniversary, expressing her heartfelt respect and gratitude for the work that she did for her Country. Vydūnas' letter, which elevates the meaning of G. Petkevičaitė-Bitė's life, reflects its exceptional spelling: the peculiarities of the Lithuanian dialect, the influence of the German language and the individual signs created and used by Vydūnas himself.



3. Vytautas Šinskis. The children in my yard. Silver print. Circa 1980. In the photo taken by the photographer V. Šinskis, the children are united by a common hobby – bicycles: they not only ride together, but also solve problems together – repair bicycles. This photograph illustrates the communication habits of children at that time.




Project “Promotion of historical and culture cross border heritage through museums innovations” / Museum 2020 is implemented under the European Neighbourhood Instrument and financed by the European Union.


The project aims to build a cross border cooperation platform creating preconditions for ensuring the increasing interest of tourists and visitors about the cultural and historical heritage in the border area of Latvia, Lithuania.


Project budget: 367 864.64 EUR, EU funding 331 078.17 EUR


Project implementation period: 1st of June 2020 – 31st of December 2022


This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Preili Museum of History and Applied Arts and Panevėžys Local Lore museum and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.