Beauty and Comfort: Changes in Living Conditions in Vilnius 1870–1918

22 07 2022–31 12 2022

Vilnius became a modern city in the late 19th and early 20th century. The population grew rapidly, but with this growth came an increase in pollution. It was not long before the quality of life deteriorated to a new low, and the local authorities faced the inevitable need to modernise the urban infrastructure, especially domestic utilities.
In 1879, what was probably the city’s first bathroom appeared in a blueprint for a home in Vilnius. Around the year 1900 the first electric bulb was switched on for the first time in a Vilnius home. Just before the onset of the First World War, construction began on the city’s water supply and sewerage systems. Streets and homes became cleaner and lighter, and completely new inventions found their way into homes: radiators, electric lights and water closets. Domestic concerns now took up less time, and urban lifestyles began to change.
At the turn of the century, fashions and standards of beauty and convenience were transformed by a better knowledge of sanitation and hygiene. Alongside domestic appliances, new types of finishes and mass-produced furniture emerged.
The period presented in this exhibition can be viewed as a turning point in the evolution of the Vilnius home. Of course, the new developments were not to the taste or the means of every resident, and various conveniences failed to reach consumers in a timely manner; in some cases, over 50 years were to pass before some residents gained access to them. But it was around this time that houses in Vilnius changed into something like the homes we live in today.

Curators: Aelita Ambrulevičiūtė, Eglė Bagušinskaitė, Dalia Klajumienė

Architects Marius Daraškevičius, Vida Miškūnaitė-Jarošienė

Graphic design: Aurelija Slapšytė

Children’s things: Živilė Miežytė

Technicians: Kazimieras Sližys, Stanislovas Lučunas, Spaudos idėjos

Partners: Vilniaus universitetas, Vilnius 700

Sponsors: Lietuvos mokslo taryba, Lietuvos kultūros taryba, Baltisches Haus

Teplov's flat in Vilnius, LNDM photo, LIMIS