Draft project for the Mother and Child Museum in Kaunas


A mother and child museum by the Organisations Association for Protecting Mothers and Children is an interesting and modern architectural vision of interwar Lithuania, which has never really materialised. The Organisations Association for Protecting Mothers and Children was established in 1928 in Kaunas. Uniting 23 charities, the association quickly expanded its educational and charitable activities. Soon enough, in 1932, a museum was opened, located at 12 Laisvės Av. (now 24), in the same building as the first mother and child health centre in Lithuania, established by Lady Muriel Paget.

Without a doubt, it was a modern institution. The museum as well was seen as an active means of education instead of a passive deposit of valuables, which provided “mothers with the most vital hygiene knowledge, such as how to treat a newborn, how to protect a child from the very cradle, how to raise the infant from the early childhood to the adulthood. How to combat various diseases. All that could be learnt from pictures, diagrams and exhibitions held at the museum.” The museum was a place for giving lectures, organising teachings, publishing propagandist literature and posters. The scope of activities, it is estimated, had a profound impact on the society. For example, more than 20,000 copies of the book “Sveikas Maistas Vaikams” (Healthy Food for Children) were issued for free.

The museum was free of charge and well-known. It is inevitable that quickly expanding activities forced to look for a new space. Therefore, the organisation bought a nearby piece of land and announced a tender for the construction of a new building for the museum and the association. The tender was won by architect Jonas Kovalskis-Kova who had just finished his studies in France several years ago. As evidenced by the remaining draft, it could have been one of the most modern buildings of the temporary capital. Strip windows, minimalist facade emphasising building’s materiality – all that indicated a new concept of architectural representation. Joints between face panels were decorated with symbolic toy figures of horses and birds. The main entrance was just as fancy, as it was decorated by a sculpture of a mother and children. Nevertheless, if we put this building against another object of a similar period performing a social function, such as the retirement home, this project was clearly focused on the pure aesthetics of international modernism.

Vaidas Petrulis