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LATVIAN MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Latvian Museum of Photography is the only museum in Riga devoted to photography. The museum is a division of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation and is open for visitors since 1993. It is situated in an old merchant building from the 16th century, and in the exhibition halls, the renovated colourful wall paintings and the historic parquet flooring ornament can be seen. The building is located near the Riga Film Museum and the Latvian Sport Museum on Alksnaju Street in one of the oldest building areas of Riga dated from year 1500.

It is possible to get acquainted with the history of photography development in Latvia and the world in the permanent exposition of the museum. There are a number of daguerreotypes, ferrotypes and ambrotypes – the oldest types of photographic image –, stereoscopic images, photographic equipment and photos taken at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, among them the famous, produced in Latvia “VEF Minox” camera, as well as a large collection of works by Latvian photographers, which includes authors’ testimonies of the brightest events of the first half of the 20th century in Latvia.
After World War II, photography in Latvia came under the strict ideological supervision of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Some attempts to implement the idea of creating a museum of photography ended unsuccessfully. In the 1970s, The Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation found ways to create exhibitions from its rich collection of photographic material, which were devoted to photography itself and were promoting the creation of self-worth in society. The Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation created a special department of photographic history, which later became the basis for the creation of a photography museum.
The need for a methodologically organized database became more and more important, and in 1987, the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation started a serious preparatory work for the creation of a museum of photography.
On April 11, 1991, the new museum got its name and official place among other Latvian cultural institutions. On May 18, 1993, the historical exhibition of the Latvian Museum of Photography “Development of Photography in Latvia. 1839 – 1940” by Pēteris Korsaks, researcher of Photography, was opened. Vilnis Auziņš was the head of the museum at that time.
Approximately 9 exhibitions are held annually in the exhibition halls of the Latvian Museum of Photography. Not only exhibitions by prominent Latvian photographers such as Gvido Kajons, Egons Spuris, Zigurds Bilzonis, Andrejs Grants, Jānis Deinats, Inta Ruka, Iveta Gabaliņa, Reinis Hofmanis, Andrejs Strokins, but also exhibitions by various foreign artists are organized. Artists such as JH Engström, Nina Korhonen, Maria Kapajeva, Romualdas Požerskis, Rimaldas Vikšraitis and many others have also shown their works at the Latvian Museum of Photography, as well as an exhibition in cooperation with the centre for contemporary photography “Fotografiska” (Stockholm) was organized.

The mission of the Latvian Museum of Photography is to study the development of photography in the territory of Latvia from its very beginning until nowadays. The main goal of the museum is to search for and to preserve photographic assets (photo negatives, copies, photo equipment, albums etc.), to supplement the collection with original works and other significant exhibits, to document the development of photography in Latvia, to make the information available to public and to promote incorporation of photography in current cultural events.