The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is open to visitors!
On May 30th, in its renovated building at 1 Latviešu strēlnieku laukums, Riga the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia hosted the grand opening of its new exhibition in the presence of the President of Latvia Egils Levits and the Minister of Culture Nauris Puntulis.
In the words of Valters Nollendorfs, long-time Chairman of the Board of the the Occupation Museum Association of Latvia and project manager of the new Museum building, “The planning of the of the Latvian Occupation Museum’s new permanent exhibition began at the same time as the planning of the Gunārs Birkerts Building for the Future, in 2006. It is based on the Museum's mission statement, ‘to explain and commemorate the crimes committed by the totalitarian occupying powers against the people, state and land of Latvia between 1940 and 1991’. The exhibition opening this year is the third one planned during the building's repeatedly delayed construction. Its content was developed by the Museum's historians in close collaboration with the design studio H2E, whose concept won the sketch competition. The exhibition’s purpose has not changed over time, but new historical insights and materials have been added, as well as new possibilities for presenting it in contemporary ways. The exhibition design is based on the metaphor of darkness and light by Gunārs Birkerts, the building’s author. It is designed as a gridded labyrinth of darkness between the two periods of light, of independence. The crimes of the occupying powers are presented in a way that is both explanatory and emotionally evocative, with many testimonies, exhibits and stories from the era. A thread of light helps one emerge from the maze: the people's resistance, resilience and faith in the future of their country.”
Ingūna Elere, Lead Designer at H2E Design said this: “This is a story of light, of a half-century of longing: when light was not seen with the eye, it was remembered by our souls. From a sun-drenched pre-war state through the darkness of occupation to the real, burnished, dignified light of today. Today, where nothing has fully ended, we still feel the shadow of the past.”
A great deal of work went into the creation of the exhibition over more than two and a half years: thousands of hours spent talking, sketching, drawing, and creating this 867 m² exhibition featuring 106 specially designed showcases, 70 m² of glass, 570 m² of wall space, 15 video projections, and 19 displays with testimonies and information.
The museum opened to the public on June 1st.
The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is a state-accredited private museum founded in 1993. It is maintained and managed by the Occupation Museum Association of Latvia, a public service organisation. The museum’s purpose is to promote a factual understanding of history by introducing visitors to the occupation, its background, events and consequences. The Museum is supported mainly by donations.
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