Jewish museum to open outside a former shtetl in Lithuania

State-of-the-art complex to be designed by architects who created award-winning History of Polish Jews exhibit

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw, Poland. (CC-BY-SA: Adrian Grycuk/Wikimedia)
The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, in Warsaw, Poland. (CC-BY-SA: Adrian Grycuk/Wikimedia)

The architects of Warsaw’s award-winning POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews will design a state-of-the-art Jewish museum outside a former shtetl in Lithuania.

The museum, slated to open in 2019, will be part of the “Lost Shtetl” memorial complex inaugurated in 2015 in and around the small town of Seduva. It will be located across the road from the town’s restored Jewish cemetery, which is part of the complex.

Sergey Kanovich, the founder of the Seduva Jewish Memorial Fund, said the museum will be designed by the Finnish company “Lahdelma and Mahlamaki Architects,” which designed POLIN. Preliminary images show it incorporating several connected structures.

Architect Rainer Mahlamaki said in a statement that the design was inspired by ancient Lithuanian architecture as well as by the neighboring old Jewish cemetery and the rural landscape surrounding the site.

Besides the cemetery, the Lost Shtetl complex already consists of a memorial sculpture in the center of Seduva, and memorials at the sites of three Holocaust mass executions of Jews near the town.

A historical study about Seduva’s Jews also was carried out as part of the project, as well as a documentary film.

The museum will use advanced technologies to tell visitors about the history and culture of Seduva and similar Litvak shtetls, Kanovich said. He said the core exhibition, curated by Millda Jakulyte, would center on the “lifestyle, customs, religion, social, professional, and family life of Seduva Jews” but visitors will also learn about the fate of local Jews during the Shoah. “Visiting the “Lost Shtetl” will be a history lesson which will allow national and international visitors to learn about the lost Litvak shtetl history and culture,” Kanovich said.

Lahdelma & MahlamAki’s POLIN Museum, whose building opened in 2013 and core exhibition in 2014, has won several international awards. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, the chief curator of POLIN’s core exhibition, is on the international team of advisers for the Seduva museum.

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