Vilnius Academy of Arts (VDA) is a State University of the Republic of Lithuania, that offers study programmes in all three study cycles in the areas of art, design, architecture, and art theory and history. The Academy consists of four campuses, situated in the cities of Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda and Telšiai, with a total of over 1500 students.
The Academy is a unique institution of higher education in Lithuania, which traces its academic tradition back to 1793, the year the Department of Architecture was established at the University of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1797 the Department of Painting and Drawing was established, followed by the Department of Graphics (Engraving) in 1803 and, in 1805, the Department of Sculpture and History of Art. Later, the art departments were consolidated into the Department of Literature and Liberal Arts.
When Vilnius University was closed in the middle of the 19th Century, the tradition of art education persisted in private studios and at the Vilnius Drawing School (1866-1915). What was Vilnius University re-opened in 1919 as Stefan Batory University, and it had an art department that offered studies in painting, sculpture and printmaking.
Kaunas Art School, established in 1922, offered painting, printmaking, sculpture, applied painting, and ceramics as well as industrial art studies. In 1940, the Kaunas School of Art and the Art Department of Stefan Batory University were reorganized into the Kaunas School of Applied Arts and the Vilnius School of Fine Art. In 1941 Kaunas School of Applied Arts became Kaunas Institute of Applied and Decorative Arts, while Vilnius School of Fine Art became Vilnius Academy of Arts, and subsequently in 1944 — Vilnius National Art Institute. In 1951 both institutes merged to become the State Art Institute of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Lithuania. In 1990, the institution returned to its former title of Vilnius Academy of Arts.
The Academy has a modern infrastructure that is available to its academic community throughout their period of study, for creative work as well as artistic research. The Academy runs a museum, several galleries and exhibition spaces, Nida Art Colony, a studio in Paris, Mizarai (Alytus distr.) base for student practice, exhibition and museum spaces in Panemunė Castle, the Audiovisual Art Industry Incubator (the Academy is one of its stakeholders), as well as Telšiai Art Incubator (founded by the Academy).
The Academy is proud of the outstanding creative and scholarly achievements of its students, as well as faculty members, that have received national and international recognition. Trust and the fostering of a creative individual are the foundation of the activities of the Academy.
Vilnius Academy of Arts is a member of the following associations and networks:
- Globally connected European network ELIA
- International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media CUMULUS
- Nordic-Baltic Network of Art and Design Education CIRRUS
- Nordplus Network of Nordic-Baltic Fine Art Academies/KUNO
- Worldwide Network of Artist Residencies RES ARTIS
- Worldwide Network of Architecture, Interaction Design and Textile Education ArcInTex
- Network for Nordic and Baltic Higher Art Education institutions EDDA Norden
- Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship