Since interest in popular antiquities or wonders of nature and artefacts of fine art were formed into collections available to the general public; national museums in the territory of (contemporary) Latvia have undergone several stages of development. To begin with; they represented the interests of the Baltic German upper class; then; being owned by one of the richest municipalities of the Russian Empire; Riga; they became the city’s pride; in their next stage; they transformed into cultural treasuries of the emerging nation-state; and after that followed a period in which they served as local archives representing the pre-Soviet past under the conditions of the communist regime. Today; Latvian national museums have acquired the status of national representatives in the contesting arena of independent European countries. The following three museums are best suited to Eunamus research interests due to their historical role and contemporary status:
- The Latvian National Museum of Art
- The National History Museum of Latvia
- The Ethnographic Open-Air Museum
All three museums have played a significant role in the nation-building process; they continue to be influential in contemporary society and their very different histories provide a complex insight into the various paths taken to establish various forms of national museums. They all qualify as major national museums; covering complementary fields (history; art and ethnography).