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This year Kėdainiai Regional Museum is going to expand its exposition with some more new expositions based on interactive technologies. One of them will enrich the most visited town’s tourist attraction – Kėdainiai Evangelical Reformed church. There, by continuing the project of the European Neighbourhood Instrument Cross-border Cooperation Latvia-Lithuania-Belarus ‘The Dukes Radziwills’ heritage preservation and adaptation for tourism in Kėdainiai and Nesvizh’, an innovative exposition will be installed, presenting audio and video material about the 17th century.

Examination of the Radziwills

The European Union (EU) financed project ‘The Dukes Radziwills’ heritage preservation and adaptation for tourism in Kėdainiai and Nesvizh’ was started in Kėdainiai in July of the previous year. Then, human remains of about 50 persons found in Kėdainiai Evangelical Reformed church crypts, were brought to Vilnius for the exhaustive surveys. A special emphasis is placed on and the most exhaustive surveys are being carried out of human remains of the famous Lithuanian noble Radziwills family laid to rest in the sarcophaguses.
‘It was necessary to renovate the mausoleum of the Evangelical Reformed church as it has long been suffered by salts penetration and moulds caused by inappropriate ventilation and heating. Therefore, the sarcophaguses started to oxidize again after twenty years from their last restoration.
To date, remains of the Radziwills have not been seriously examined. For example, no DNA research was carried out. All studies conducted until now are limited to formal inspection and measurement. So, nobody can guarantee that in the sarcophaguses of Kėdainiai Evangelical Reformed church there are exactly Janusz Radziwill and Stefan Radziwill or among human remains of four persons there are really remains of Krzysztof Mikolaj Radziwill (the Thunderer). Besides, the investigation of the Radziwills remains is also necessary as there are missing remains of three Radziwills children. Perhaps, they will be found among about 40 persons’ remains taken out from other crypts of this church’, says director of Kėdainiai Regional Museum Rimantas Žirgulis.
Whilst investigation of the Radziwills and other rich Kėdainiai townspeople remains carried out by scientists/anthropologists are underway, intense works including renovation of the crypts and installation of the modern periodically regenerating system are carried out in the Evangelical Reformed church.
During implementation of the project, full attention is also paid to attractiveness of the church. In order to increase visitors’ awareness of one of the most outstanding architectural monuments of the country, a part of the new exposition will be based on the modern computer technologies.
‘The exposition of Kėdainiai Evangelical Reformed church will include a part of visual exposition based on augmented reality technologies. Using this technology, visitors will be able to move to the 17th century and see how the church interior and services approximately looked like at that time. Thanks to the augmented reality, visitors will be able to view the service of that time from different locations of the church and see it from different prospect of people of that time as well as to hear speech of different townspeople.
Visitors will be able to watch these small video clips using tablets. There will be 20 tablets available matching a usual tourist group. Visitors, having approached to a place marked in the church and using a tablet will see and hear how the church, its interior, sermon and a priest preaching a sermon, perhaps chanters, visitors etc. looked like about four hundred years ago exactly from that place’, says Vytautas Švėgžda, a director of a company ‘Multimediamark’ that creates interactive expositions for Kėdainiai Regional Museum.

For better discovery

The purpose of the interactive exposition in the Evangelical Reformed church is to better reveal its rich history.
‘Kėdainiai Evangelical Reformed church has a very interesting history. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Kėdainiai. Therefore, our purpose is to provide visitors with more and vivid information about the church history. We decided to implement it through a virtual world, reconstructing historic reality with innovative technologies.
This church is a place of worship of Protestant Reformers. This confession is little-known to most of us, Catholics, and seems pretty mysterious. Through texts written together with scientists, which in video clips will be spoken by Kėdainiai historical persons, recreated using the augmented reality, visitors will learn about the Evangelical Reformed confession and its values.
Besides, using the augmented reality technology, we are going to recreate the past interior, so visitors will be able to see ministers’ loge and a pulpit, which didn’t survive. Modern technologies enable to know the region’s history not only in greater detail, but also more interesting and easier’, says R. Žirgulis.
For sceptics, who perhaps have doubts about relevance and worth of investments into modern technologies, the Museum worker can make an argument: ‘Perhaps, someone could say that due to the rapid rate of technological progress, something that was introduced this year, would be not relevant and outdated after a couple of years. However, I think that the new expositions are important not only by their technologies or innovation, but also by history, which is transferred and by a tale, which is displayed. We, creating new parts of the interactive museum exposition, highlight not technologies. It is more important to tell a story interestingly and vividly, because good stories never age. We cannot rise to higher levels, like the Louvre or Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, however we seek consensus in the level of our Regional Museum. Our purpose to make history accessible, interesting and attractive for everybody and if we have managed to make something, we are glad about it’, maintains R. Žirgulis.

A big project

A purpose of the project ‘The Dukes Radziwills’ heritage preservation and adaptation for tourism in Kėdainiai and Nesvizh’ is to restore the Dukes Radziwill crypt and sarcophaguses in Kėdainiai Evangelical Reformed church, research the Dukes Radziwills tombs, install modern expositions and organise cultural events reflecting the Dukes Radziwills period as well as conferences in Kėdainiai and Nesvizh.
The project’s partners: Kėdainiai Regional Museum and Nesvizh National Historical and Cultural Museum/Reserve in Belarus. This project, that was launched in February of the last year, will last till the beginning of 2021. The total cost of the project is more than 700 thousand Euros, from which about 40 thousand will be allocated to the new interactive exposition in the Evangelical Reformed church.

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