Tolerance Center

One of the most important departments of Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Lithuania is the Tolerance center in Vilnius. The name of the center tells volumes for its` main purpose to spread tolerance, comprehension, sensibility and other values in a society.

The building where the Tolerance center is located was disposed to the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum only in 1989 despite the fact it have belonged to Jews for centuries before the Soviet occupation. The building had always served for generous and noble purposes. In the end of the 19th century there was an eating house opened where people with no earn for living could eat here for free or for a token payment. In 1910 it was decided to reconstruct the inside interior of the building and establish a philharmonic hall there. During the First World War a charitable canteen was opened here again. After the First World War in the building various cultural and public events there were held as well as a professional Jews theater acted.

The nowadays Tolerance center was opened for visitors only in 2001. Since that time the center have already achieved much. In the center there is a permanent exposition representing art works and art heritage of Lithuanian Jews. The changeable part of the exposition including thematic exposures, events and various projects is orientated into an open cognitive program of public cultures that contains spread of social cultures, topics about the unique historic, art and cultural heritage.

The permanent exposition contains several thematic displays. Firstly, there is a lonesome collection of pictures, videos and memories of witnesses telling stories about Jews children during the Holocaust. The exposition was dedicated for all these innocent children killed during the Holocaust. There is no doubt that real stories and real documents tell the truth much better than history books and manuals. The exposition was created for many years and the result was called “The Escaped Lithuanian Jews Child tells about Shoa”. Specially for this exposition a sound and light system was here installed. One more exposition is called “Returning Home”. It is an exposure of paintings by Samuel Bak who survived the genocide. During the tragic times of Nazi occupation Bak was in confinement in Vilnius ghetto together with his family. But even under such terrible circumstances, Samuel`s parents provided the 8 years old boy with pencils and paper so that he could paint as he was noticed to have an incredible gift as a painter. Nowadays in the exposition “Returning Home” authentic paintings of the same escaped boy Samuel as well as his later works are displayed. Samuel has to be grateful to be alive for his parents and  some Lithuanians. The exposition called “Jews life in Lithuania” is kind of common information of Jews history in Lithuania. Another one called “The Lost World” tells visitors about traditions of Jewish art. The main accents of this exposition are 3 authentic elements of the interior of the Great Synagogue of Vilnius. The last one part of the permanent exposition of the Tolerance center contains artworks created by Gerardas Bagdonavičius. This famous Jewish artist have immortalized real Jews life moments in his paintings. The exposition is called “The Ruined Signs of the World of Litvaks”.

Visiting the Tolerance center is worth everybody`s time undoubtedly. Although there are very painful memories exposed, watching pain that others once experienced can help to realize the real value of the nowadays welfare.