The Lithuanian cultural institutions system comprises 4 kinds of institutions: national, state, municipal and private, i. e. established by private persons or their organisations. These kinds of institutions are present in all of the main areas of culture: museums, theatres, libraries, cultural centres, etc.
Almost all national and state cultural institutions have the legal status of budgetary institutions that is defined in the Law on Budgetary Institutions (1995, new edition 2022). According to the Law, the budgetary institution is a public legal entity with limited civil liability, which performs state or municipal functions and is maintained from the appropriations of the state or municipal budgets, as well as from the budgets of the State Social Insurance Fund, Compulsory Health Insurance Fund and other state monetary funds. Authorities exercising the rights and obligations of the owner approve the statutes of a budgetary institution, appoint and dismiss the head; decide on the reorganisation or liquidation of the budgetary institution; take a decision regarding the establishment of a branch of a budgetary institution and the termination of its activities; etc.
In 2022, there were 10 national cultural institutions in Lithuania: 3 theatres (the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, and National Kaunas Drama Theatre), 4 museums (National Museum of Lithuania, Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art), 1 library (Martynas Ma˛vydas National Library of Lithuania), 1 concert organisation (Lithuanian national Philharmonic Society), and 1 broadcasting company (Lithuanian National Radio and Television). National institutions themselves manage the appropriations that are allocated to them each year by government in accordance with the Law on the Approval of Financial Indicators of the State Budget and Municipal Budgets that is adopted by the Seimas each year.
State cultural institutions are financed through the Ministry of Culture, i. e. the Ministry allocates their appropriations according to its budget plan of the respective year. In 2022, 39 state cultural institutions were in the purview of the Ministry: 12 museums, 10 theatres, 6 libraries, 6 concert organisations, 1 arts centre, 1 cultural centre, 1 park and 2 cultural reserves. Additionally, four state museums are financed by other Ministries: the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of the Environment. Most of these state cultural institutions are concentrated in the three largest cities of Lithuania.
Local authorities are responsible for the financing and maintenance of local cultural institutions and cultural heritage. They have the right to establish or abolish cultural institutions of local importance and finance them through appropriations from the local budgets. Most local cultural organisations have a legal form of budget or public institution and their owner is the municipality. According to the data on municipalities of the Lithuanian Statistics, in 2020 there were 1221 municipal public libraries, 54 municipal museums, 11 municipal theatres, 6 concert organisations and 159 cultural centres with 475 structural subunits.
Data on private cultural institutions are not systematically registered. The Lithuanian Ministry of Culture only provides data on some private museums and theatres. According to the Ministry’s data, there were 10 private museums and 36 private professional theatres that have the status of professional performing arts’ organisation granted by the Ministry. However, the Association of Lithuanian Museums provides data on 64 private museums, and the Register of Legal Entities provides information on 120 registered organisations with the word “theatre” in their name that have the legal form of NGO, individual enterprise etc. Data about private cultural institutions in other areas of culture can be gathered only from the registers of companies and is approximate as well.
In general, the Lithuanian system of national and state cultural institutions changed very little over the last years. In 2009, a new national cultural institution was established: the National Museum Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. In 2012, the state Kaunas Drama Theatre became the national theatre. Some national institutions renovated their buildings and opened new permanent exhibits, such as Vytautas Kasiulis Art Museum.