Vilnius Academy of Arts (VAA) is the largest and oldest art university in the Baltic States, established in 1793 as an Architecture department at the Chief school of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Vilnius. At the end of the 19th century it was closed together with Vilnius University by the tsarist government, and then reopened in 1919. After the World War II Academy was merged with Kaunas Art Institute and since then was called The State Art Institute of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania. In 1990 the Academy regained its name of Vilnius Academy of Arts.
Since 1990, almost 100 alumni of the Academy were awarded National Art Awards. Today Academy has over 1,800 students in four cities – Vilnius, Kaunas, Telšiai and Klaipėda. Each faculty has its own unique study programmes, which offer Lithuanian students a possibility to find a specific art specialization in different cities. Vilnius faculty has a wide collection of most popular art study programmes varying from Painting to Culture Management and Culture Politics. Kaunas faculty offers Glass Art study programme that is unique throughout the Baltic region. Telšiai faculty is based on a solid craft competences and the newly established Klaipėda faculty offers programmes related to the most current art tendencies.
Vilnius Academy of Arts carries out some fundamental research in humanities and social sciences that are important to Lithuania and the entire Baltic region. The research activities are organized and implemented by academic core units – Faculties and the Institute of the Art Studies, Research and Dissemination.
Fields of research include The Modern Visual Culture and its Theories, Theory and Criticism of Visual Arts, Art and Culture of New Times, Management and Sociology of Art and Culture Management, Monument Protection, Monument Management and Research in Heritage, The Visual Culture of the Old Lithuania and the Modern Reflection.
The highly qualified and sufficiently numerous research staff is being continuously renewed by PhD graduates of the Academy, by participation in international research networks and involvement in PhD project activities. Recently opened Art and Design PhD programme formed the platform for the artistic research.
Vilnius Academy of Arts provides all three university study cycles: Bachelor, Master, PhD of Arts and Humanities (Art history). The Academy offers 57 study programmes (30 first cycle, 23 second cycle, 3 third cycle, 1 non-degree), which all are accredited and registered in the State Study Programme Register.
The ideas of lifelong learning are implemented in a variety of forms and conditions: part-time studies, individual studies’ schedule, admission of college graduates. The Open School for Art, Design and Architecture of the Academy accepts pupils, students and adults seeking to prepare for the entry exam, to acquire pedagogic qualification or to practice art with an experienced mentor. The Academy’s Art and Design Lab, which consists of design, photography and media art, graphics, ceramics, monumental painting and scenography, restoration and preservation, metal, textile workshops and printing center furnished with the most modern equipment is open to all students.
Knowledge and Value for Society
The Academy operates a network of art galleries. In Vilnius, Artifex gallery presents new forms of textile art, ARgenTum showcases jewellery, Akademija is focused on visual arts and Titanikas is oriented towards modern art, design and book art shows, A. and A. Tamošaičiai gallery Židinys preserves the traditions of folk art and weaving. A gallery in Telšiai bears the load of representing the professional arts of this town and the region.
The publishing house of the Academy is of major importance when promoting knowledge to the public. It publishes the original textbooks on art, architecture, art studies and monument management for all higher art schools, colleges and art gymnasiums along with a number of monographs dedicated to the research of the regional cultural heritage, collections of research articles and encyclopaedias. A very important initiative for the publication of research papers is a peer-reviewed journal Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, founded in 1993.
Regional and National Impact
Vilnius Academy of Arts is unique among Lithuanian universities by its location. It has faculties in four cities from the East to the West of the country, each with their own study programmes and character. The exhibitions and public presentations of the student works along with other events organized and hosted by the local faculties and students in various cities add to the cultural context of the Lithuanian regions.
The Vilnius faculty, situated in the heart of the Old Town, is the acknowledged center of visual arts studies in the country that has strong painting, graphic, sculpture and textile art study programmes. For years, the design studies are gaining popularity, especially graphic and interior design. The students come to Vilnius from all over Lithuania and abroad, and the alumni community has members throughout the country.
The Kaunas Faculty is by its size second to Vilnius, relying on long tradition of art education and the cultural heritage of the former capital. Studying in Kaunas, the second largest city of Lithuania is a preferred choice of young people coming from Kaunas and central Lithuania. Study programmes such as Glass Art are unique not only to Lithuania, but also to the Baltic region.
Metal Art, Furniture Design and Restoration, Apparel and Knitting Design programmes of the Telšiai Faculty are based on solid craft competences and are particularly attractive to the more tradition-oriented residents of Western and Northern parts of Lithuania, who often choose to stay in smaller towns or on the countryside, becoming active ambassadors of the material culture.
On the contrary, the newly established Klaipėda faculty is focusing on the most current tendencies. Architecture and Urbanism, Graphic Design, Modern Art and Media and Interior Design studies complement the development of this dynamic seaport and all the region.
In addition to being an educational center, Academy is an operator of several objects of cultural significance outside the largest cities, cooperating closely with local communities. Such projects include Mizarai Plein Air Camp or Panemunė Castle, which is one of the most beautiful and best preserved Renaissance castles in the country. Recently partly restored, it now hosts a museum and exhibition spaces, used both by the teachers and the students of the Academy.
Academy is a member of international networks and associations of European higher education institutions of art and design. The diversity is brought in by international exchange programmes, such as Erasmus+ or NordPLUS, produces a positive effect upon the entire range of activities.
Today the Academy has more than 150 Erasmus partners within the EU, with 90 outgoing and 90-100 incoming students each academic year. Around 40 visiting professors ensure the development of international expertise and exchange of new ideas of students and staff.
A prime example of international collaboration at the Academy is Nida Art Colony. Open all year round, it hosts workshops, intensive courses, seminars, artist talks and screenings as well as the artist-in-residence programme for experienced and emerging artists, designers, architects, curators, art critics and researchers from around the world.