Ambassador Robert Gilchrist Remarks at the Janina Monkutė-Marks Museum Handover Ceremony in Kėdainiai


Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Robert S. Gilchrist
Janina Monkutė-Marks Museum Handover Ceremony

Kėdainiai Town Hall, Kėdainiai
April 15, 2023

Dear Mayor Tamulis, Mr. Žirgulis
Dear Mrs. Dalia Minkevičienė-Jazdauskienė
Dear guests,

Thank you for including me today and congratulations to the entire community of Kėdainiai, on this significant moment for the city and for the Janina Monkutė-Marks Museum-Gallery.

In fact, on this day 88 years ago, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and representatives of twenty Latin American countries signed a pact agreeing that “historic monuments, museums, scientific, artistic, educational and cultural institutions” should be protected both in times of peace and war.  Now this day has been declared Culture Day to encourage the protection of cultural values of all mankind.  What better way to commemorate our joint commitment to the true value of art, culture, and education for our communities than on Culture Day!

The Janina Monkutė-Marks Museum has always been the little America in Lithuania. The Embassy is proud to call the Musuem Gallery a friend and partner ever since 2001, when one of my predecessors, Ambassador Tefft, took part at the Museum opening ceremony.  But our connection goes much further – this museum has not only shared American art, music, and history with the people of Lithuania, it has also talked about the diversity and the values of the American people.  It has always searched for what connects Lithuania and the United States as friends and allies.

Bridging people through art, culture and education was always the mission of not only the Museum-Gallery, but also of the late Janina Monkutė-Marks as well.

My congratulations go to Kėdainiai Regional Museum and Director, our alumnus Mr. Žirgulis.  You have been gifted a wonderful opportunity to continue and bring forward the traditions of creativity, community involvement, and philanthropy in the Kėdainiai region and Lithuania.

I am absolutely sure that your leadership will not only preserve but will also carry the legacy of the Monkutė-Marks family into a bright and promising future.

I would also like to thank Kėdainiai Regional Municipality and Mayor Tamulis, for the leadership and determination to keep this Museum open and accessible to the residents of this city.  I commend you for keeping Kėdainiai on Lithuania’s cultural map and showing how cultural diversity brings us together.

Finally, I want to share my deepest gratitude to Janina Monkutė-Marks Museum Director Mrs. Dalia Minkevičienė-Jazdauskienė.  It is incredible to witness what you have built from the ground up and to recognize how much you’ve accomplished for our friendship, our shared values, and for the people of this city.  Your aunt would be proud.  You embody courage, leadership, and female empowerment, and your work and legacy will serve as a reminder to us all of what we can achieve when we choose to work for our communities.  On behalf of my team at the Embassy and the U.S. Department of State, dear Dalia, thank you for your service.

Thank you all once again for inviting me to be part of this ceremony and I wish everyone a lovely rest of the afternoon, enjoying American-inspired music and art.