Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum
Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum (Lithuanian: Valstybinis Vilniaus Gaono Žydụ Muziejus; Yiddish: דער ווילנער גאון מלוכהשער יידישער מוזיי) in Vilnius, Lithuania is dedicated to the historical and cultural heritage of Lithuanian Jewry.
The Vilna Gaon museum was established in 1989 by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture. Over the years, its collection has been expanded to include objects from other museums in Lithuania. The museum was renamed in 1997 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of the Talmudic scholar Vilna Gaon.
The museum has five branches that focus on different aspects of Jewish history and culture. The Tolerance Center's collections include works of sacred, modern, and traditional art along with historical materials; The Green House is a Holocaust exhibit; the Paneriai Memorial is dedicated to the Paneriai (Ponary) Massacre; the Jacques Lipchitz Memorial Museum in Druskininkai exhibits his lithographs; and the former Tarbut Gymnasium displays the history of Lithuanian Jews in the interwar and Nazi period.
The museum acquires and systematizes materials, issues publications, conducts research, organizes permanent and temporary exhibitions, and sponsors educational activities.
In 2010, the Museum and the Austrian Verein Gedenkdienst joined forces to launch the Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas project. Expanding on previous research on Holocaust murder sites in Lithuania, the project created an internet data base, and in 2011 published the Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas, a 318-page volume reference book of 227 mass graves with detailed information on the location, coordinates, perpetrators, victims and their number. Dr. Arūnas Bubnys served as the project's historian. Whilst this is a vitally important endeavor, it was recently revealed that elements within the Museum published inaccurate accounts of the Lithuanian Holocaust in a seemingly deliberate attempt to cover-up the role of the Lithuanians themselves in the massacre of the Jews. One example was an informatory text on the date 1941-06-23, claiming that "the first killings of Jews have been performed in the context of the war chaos, the anti-Soviet rebelion [sic] the withdraw [sic] of the Red Army and rapid attack of the German army". The justification and rationalization of the murder of Jews by nationalistic Lithuanians alongside the Nazis is just one example of how elements within the educational framework regarding the Holocaust in Lithuania are tainted by that government's refusal to acknowledge the cruel and pivotal involvement of Lithuanians in the Holocaust and its refusal to bring war-time Lithuanian murderers of Jews to justice.
- "Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum", Times of Israel, retrieved 2012-03-06
- Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas, compiled by Milda Jakulytė-Vasil, Vilnius: Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum and the National Land Service under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania, 2011. 318 pages; illus.; maps ISBN 978-9955-767-14-5