The Museum opened its doors to the public on October 20, 2001. American Ambassador John Tefft and his wife Mariella, Kedainiai Regional Mayor Victoras Muntianas and many honorable quests from Vilnius and Kaunas participated at the opening ceremony. In 2000, Janina Monkute-Marks established a Not For Profit Institution in Kedainiai.
The Museum gallery was reconstructed using a single floor two-wing building – which from the early twentieth century till the First World War was a building of Juozapava Homestead – as a basis. During the interwar period the reconstructed building was a notary office; in the first decades of the Soviet period – a home for students, and from 1967 to 2000 – Kedainiai Regional Museum.
In various sources Juozapava Farmstead was first mentioned in 1819. Its owner was a court clerk of Kedainiai City nobleman Feliksas Ciolkievicius. The homestead had a wooden manor house and 6 outbuildings.
In 1856, a minor son of Feliksas Ciolkievicius – Stanislovas Ciolkevicius – sold the Farmstead for 6,000 czarist rubles to a nobleman of an Italian origin Liudvikas Kognovickis in the presence of a guardian nobleman Miroslavas Steckievicius. The relatives of the buyer the noblemen Cognocce came from Italy to Lithuania in the sixteenth century as part of an escort of Queen Bona Sforza (a wife of Grand Duke Sigismund I the Old). One of the Cognocces married a local noblewoman Chreptaviciute and changed his name to acquire the sounding characteristic to the Polish language – Kognovickis.
Juozapava Farmstead made of bricks, which is currently a home to Janina Monkute-Marks Gallery, was probably built at the end of the nineteenth century by its last owner Povilas Kognovickis. In 1889, he was mentioned in the List of Kaunas Province Landowners. In that year Juozapava consisted of 44 dessiatines (about 48 hectares) of land.
In 1921, part of Juozapava Farmstead (1 ha of land) with the stone homestead was purchased by brothers Juozas and Kazimieras Merkeviciai. At that time the address of the Farmstead was Stoties str. 3; later (in 1936 – 1940) after the construction of J. Basanavicius prospectus (now J. Basanavicius str.) the address became J. Basanavicius str. 3. In the purchased brick homestead K. Merkevicius established a notary firm and was its owner till 1934. In that year, he with his brother Juozas mortgaged all of their real estate at J. Basanavicius str. 3 to the State Savings Fund for a large amount of 10,000 Litas. In 1941, the mortgaged assets were nationalized.
August 12, 2007
Janina Monkute-Marks was presented with the title of Kedainiai’s Honorary Citizen. This title was bestowed upon her for her outstanding dedication and constant cultural input into the district of Kedainiai. She is also recognized for introducing foreign artists to Lithuania, as well as for continuing education through art and promoting Lithuanian culture around the world.
On November 16, 2012, Janina Monkute-Marks Museum-Gallery was presented the award for the most beautifully arranged company of 2012 at the Contest of “The Most Beautifully Arranged Environment in Kedainiai District”. This is already the third year in a row when the Museum is awarded at this Contest.
Memorial of Janina Monkute-Marks
Regina Gailiesiute Chicago, IL 11/15/2010
My deepest condolences for all sons, their families, extended families and everyone, who was touched by JANINA. My heartfelt gratitude to the family for giving me a GIFT to see JANINA in transition towards the other side of sun.
I was blessed for 20 years of sharing close times with Janina. Her journey was diverse as colorful palette and focus to create was boundless. Janina’s international travels sparked an interest in the folk art and people. Once she said: after visiting so many cultures I realized that we all have two eyes and two ears and we have the same feelings to be concerned, be content and dream… we are all the same. She was ahead of the times to capture a human global village. Janina’s respect to the human depth was expressed in her art and her ability to relate to the human soul.
I’ll miss our heart-to-heart conversations and giving me a feeling as a safe place to be. Her home was always open to my mother and me. Once I was thinking “where is home?” – Home is where someone is waiting for you. In truth, there was always home in JANINA’s heart.
Janina was very inclusive of me, including into her family Thanksgivings. During this time of Thanksgiving we are here to celebrate her remarkable life and THANK HER for sharing with us her grace, wisdom, vision, educational element and her sense for overall beauty. Her passion to give back to the people of her homeland and to share her life experiences enriching us all.
Janina have had a great capacity to grow and was inspiring everyone else to do so by wishing well to everyone. I’m grateful for her sensitivity and thoughtfulness. As in the play “I never sang for my Father”, I’ll be talking to You in my thoughts and today may I say “from the heart may it go to the heart…”
On November 16, 2012, Janina Monkute-Marks Museum-Gallery was presented the award for the most beautifully arranged company of 2012 at the Contest of “The Most Beautifully Arranged Environment in Kedainiai District”.