Article | Building National Museums in Europe 1750-2010. Conference proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Bologna 28-30 April 2011. EuNaMus Report No. 1 | National Museums in Latvia

Title:
National Museums in Latvia
Author:
Toms Kencis: Kristin Kuutma:
Download:
Full text (pdf)
Year:
2011
Conference:
Building National Museums in Europe 1750-2010. Conference proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Bologna 28-30 April 2011. EuNaMus Report No. 1
Issue:
064
Article no.:
021
Pages:
497-519
No. of pages:
23
Publication type:
Abstract and Fulltext
Published:
2011-09-30
Series:
Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings
ISSN (print):
1650-3686
ISSN (online):
1650-3740
Publisher:
Linköping University Electronic Press; Linköpings universitet


This article concerns the formation; institutionalisation and development of national museums in Latvia. The major foundational and restructuring events of three museums of national importance are described in relation to nation-building and state-making processes; including an overview of transformations in organisation and representational policies during the times of historical change related to both world wars and occupation regimes. In each of the case studies; the relative powers of individual; civic; academic; professional and state initiatives are examined. This article also includes an overview of the organisation of the structural interface between cultural policy and particular museums in particular periods of time; indicating the most important institutions and referencing the recognition or denial of different groups in this process. Selection and changes in the content of museums’ collections and displays are also taken into account.

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).

Building National Museums in Europe 1750-2010. Conference proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Bologna 28-30 April 2011. EuNaMus Report No. 1

Author:
Toms Kencis, Kristin Kuutma
Title:
National Museums in Latvia
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Building National Museums in Europe 1750-2010. Conference proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Bologna 28-30 April 2011. EuNaMus Report No. 1

Author:
Toms Kencis, Kristin Kuutma
Title:
National Museums in Latvia
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