Research Archives of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation
The Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation often accepted donations in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, or it bought items and collections that could not be displayed in the museum’s permanent display but which had a historical and cultural value and were a testimony to pre-Soviet Latvia.
Rīga Palasta iela 4, Latvia LV-1050
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Name of collection
- Research Archives of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation
Provenance and cultural activities
In the immediate post-Second World War period, efforts at preserving cultural values/artefacts from independent Latvia were often considered by the Soviet authorities as a political transgression, if the artefacts were connected with people or organisations that were politically suspect from the regime’s point of view. The routine 'cleansing' of undesirable artefacts in museum collections took place in the 1940s and 1950s, and the acquisition of new ones was virtually impossible. Attempts to preserve these artefacts could end in a criminal investigation and persecution, as happened in 1946 with several employees at the Museum of the History of Latvia. The situation changed a little in the mid-1950s. In the more ‘liberal’ climate of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation often accepted donations or purchased items and collections which could not be displayed in the museum’s permanent display, but which had a historical and cultural value. When the owners of these items and collections were politically unacceptable people (such as the wife of the well-known official of independent Latvia General Jānis Balodis), the items were purchased under other people’s names, and the donors were registered just as ‘N.N.’ Although the management of the museum, and the Ministry of Culture, which had to approve all purchases, were politically reliable people from the point of view of the Soviet regime, they understood that material evidence about independent Latvia had to be preserved. Part of this policy of tacit approval was the acceptance of the Grinbergs-Grosvalds family collection, a collection of works by the photographer Vilis Rīdzenieks with a picture of the proclamation of independent Latvian statehood on 18 November 1918, and a collection of negatives by the photographer Krišs Rake with several thousand pictures of members of different state and NGOs from independent Latvia.
Description of content
The research archives of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation are a testimony to the everyday resistance by museum employees against the political intolerance of the Soviet regime regarding policy on the formation of museum collections. Although most employees of the museum, and the Ministry of Culture, which had to approve all purchases, were not involved in dissident activities, there was a tacit agreement that artefacts that were important from a historical and cultural point of view had to be preserved. In this way, for example, a photograph of the proclamation of the independence of Latvia on 18 November 1918, from the collection of the photographer Vilis Rīdzenieks, was preserved, although under the Soviet regime it could not be displayed. At the end of the 1980s, when the movement for the restoration of independence started, these artefacts became very important, and were displayed at exhibitions and published. The research archives comprise documents about the purchase and donation of such collections and artefacts, and how it was done.
- legal and/or financial documentation: 1000-
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
- Gailiša, Anita
Geographical scope of recent operation
Place of founding
Rīga Palasta iela 4, Latvia
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
- Rīgas vēstures un kuģniecības muzejs (1987). Rīgas kartes un plāni. 17. gs. - 19. gs. 60. gadu vidus. Katalogs. Rīga, 111 lpp.
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Author(s) of this page
- Bleiere, Daina
Tatjana Cēbere (1991). ""Daugaviete" pirmajā atjaunotnes gadā", Universitas, Nr.67 (01.10.1991);
Jānis A. Aperāns (1991). "Lielais brīnums", Universitas, Nr.67 (01.10.1991);
Anita Gailiša (1988). Karogi kā vēstures avots. Padomju Jaunatne, (04.08.1988).
Gailiša, Anita , interview by Bleiere, Daina , March 31, 2017, February 02, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection