After independence in 1990, various Soviet statues were taken down and scattered around. Malinauskas requested Lithuanian authorities to grant him the ownership of the sculptures, so that he could build an individually financed museum. This Soviet-theme park was created in the wetlands of Dzūkija National Park. Many of its exhibits are re-creations of Soviet Gulag prison camps: wooden paths, guard towers, and barbed-wire fences.
Its establishment faced some fierce opposition, and its existence is still controversial. Some ideas originally meant to be a part of the park were never allowed, such as transporting visitors in a Gulag-style train. Grūtas Park and its founder Malinauskas won the 2001 Ig Nobel Peace Prize. Since January 2007 the park has been in dispute with the Lithuanian copyright protection agency. The agency requires royalties to be paid to seven Lithuanian artists who created some of the statues.
The park also contains playgrounds, a mini-zoo and cafes, all displaying relics of the Soviet era. On special occasions actors perform re-enactments of various Soviet-sponsored festivals.
The exposition, consisting of 86 statues by 46 different sculptors, is divided into different sections. Each of the statue features a Soviet or socialist activist, many of them ethnic Lithuanians. The Totalitarian section features sculptures of the main Communist leaders and thinkers, including Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Karl Marx.
The Grūtas Park exposition discloses the negative aspects of the Soviet ideology and its impact on the value system. The aim of this exposition is to give an opportunity for both Lithuanian people, and visitors, as well as future generations to see the naked Soviet ideology, which suppressed and hurt the spirit of our nation for many decades.
The video and photo documentaries collected and displayed at the information centre and museum, show and denounce the ideologized Soviet propaganda, pseudo-science, etc. The exposition of picture gallery can be separated into two themes: political and economic.
The park keeps young visitors busy as well. Children can enjoy the swings at the playground (the Soviet times Lunapark) and find it interesting to imagine how and what kind of games their parents and grandparents used to play.
We also prepare traditional Lithuanian potato recipes – dumplings made from grated potatoes and stuffed with meat (cepelinai), baked potato pudding (kugelis), or cold beet soup (šaltibarščiai). Grūtas park style and its mood is reflected in our “Soviet” menu: our visitors greatly enjoy sprats “po ruski”, cutlets “proščaj molodost“, or a cocktail “elnio akis”.
Young visitors are also amused by the inhabitants of the mini-zoo located in the park – featuring birds and animals.Back
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