The State Museum of Art Opened for Visitors on 27th May 1922

The Latvian State Museum of Art had been founded already on the 15th March 1920 but could only be unveiled to the public two years later. In the interim, a team of employees was created, works of art were sorted out and the required inventory for exhibiting them was provided in the dedicated space at Riga Castle.  From then on, the museum was open for six days a week and its permanent exhibitions could be viewed for free.

Evidence about the fact of the museum’s unveiling could be seen in the local press of the time. Issue 219 of the Latvis newspaper contained a report in 1922, written by its employee, writer Jānis Grīns:

 

“The Latvian Museum of Art (not to be confused with the Riga City Museum) was opened today on the 27th May, and was attended by invited visitors on this day – government, art, academic and press employees. – It was known that the museum’s Director Burkards Dzenis and his assistant Konrāds Ubāns had already been working on the fitting and setting up of the museum since April 1920. There was already certain disquiet within society about the delayed opening, but the reason for the latter was the lack of funds and the widespread dispersal of works of art which had occurred during the world war. Even now, a greater collection of Latvian works of art (the property of the Art Promotional Society) can be found in Russia. 

 

The new museum is obviously not very large; approximately 125 paintings, 6 sculptures and 50 items of graphic art by about 35 artists are exhibited there. Only the works of Latvian artists are exhibited, starting from Kārlis Hūns and Jūl. Feders and ending with the youngest artists. Not to mention that some artists are very poorly represented with Aleks. Romans, Jūl. Krastiņš, Tilbergs, Miesnieks and others being absent completely. But that is how it is initially. And still, to us Latvians, these 5 rooms at Riga Castle are much more endearing and also seem more valuable than the City of Riga’s art museums with their many foreign works.

 

Starting from Monday 29th May, the museum is open to all, every day (except Saturdays) from 10am–3pm. Entrance is free for everybody. We especially recommend the museum to visitors from the provinces. 

 

Our art critic will provide further information about the museum.  

J. Gr. [Jānis Grīns]”

 

At the commencement of operations of the new national institution, the many variations on its name encountered in documents and publications. Management itself had announced the opening of the Latvian Museum of Art “at 11am on 27th May, at Apartment 11 at the Castle” to the press on 25th May 1922 – (Latvis, 1922, No. 217). It was only with the Saeima adopting a law on the State Museum of Art on the 7th November 1924, that this name, which was to be used in future, was adopted officially.