Monument or heritage? Kaunas of the 19th century in the 21st century 4

Kastytis Rudokas, 2015-01-07

In brief: The author expresses his worry about the soviet/modernistic understanding of heritage as a static monument predominating among professionals and in the public in Kaunas. He emphasises that heritage and a monument are not the same although both categories may share the common physical substance, i.e. we may interpret a building as a heritage object and as a monument.

The difference is simple but hardly understandable frequently: the monument is a narrow cultural mark limited by the function to represent one or another event, political or social direction that is vivid in a certain historical period. Heritage is a wide cultural matrix that does not obey laws of time and space, that appears due to various contexts and activities, that forms trajectories of the present and future development. If we ruin the physical substance (remove a building or sculptures of the Green Bridge in Vilnius), we will lose the monument but we will not lose heritage in many cases. Especially, if we understand the laws of the past-present-future processes of culture.

The author states that emphasis on the monument prevails in Kaunas while speaking on heritage questions. Still, he names the positive impulse – the attempt to receive the European Heritage Label to Kaunas modern architecture and to seek for the recognition of UNESCO. These aims encourage the public to think about heritage and to search for methods of realising our past. The idea of the city to choose culture as the needed impulse for the city is surely correct according to the author.

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