05.05.2011 - 16:23

Una Sedleniece, Culture Theorist

First published in the visual arts magazine Studija No. 75 (December’2010/January’2011).

Translator into English: Sarmīte Lietuviete.

To reach the Talsi District Museum (TDM), you must not only ascend one of the nine Talsi hills, but also climb the steep wooden steps leading to the main entrance of the building that was once Georg von Firks’ town villa. What then are the fine details that entice people to visit the museum? First, the museum has very well-groomed surroundings, with sculptures judiciously distributed on the lawns. Second, the yard accommodates a bicycle stand and comfortable benches. Third, the information poster at the museum entrance is charged both visually and in terms of content, and explicitly states that the museum offers seven permanent and four temporary exhibitions, their thematic diversity being suitable for various segments of the public.(1) On the whole, the space around the building inspires trust in the museum as a venue for educational activities and public events consolidating the community. The museum is surrounded by a park featuring a collection of trees, thus bringing together history, art and nature into an organic entirety.

22.01.2011 - 15:07

Una Sedleniece, Culture Theorist.

First published in visual arts magazine Studija No. 5 (74), 2010.

Translator into English: Sarmīte Lietuviete.

Almost 200 years have passed, but the buildings erected by Livonia’s Secret Counsellor and St. Petersburg senator, manor owner Otto Hermann von Vietinghoff(1) and his successors are still the most noteworthy sights in Alūksne for all those interested in history, and also the venues for the more significant events, both spiritual and secular, of the local community. The skillfully selected positioning of the Vietinghoff manor ensemble and the park on the banks of a picturesque lake form the nucleus of the town centre, and influence the rhythm and pattern in time and space of the places where Alūksne residents gather. The former brewery of the estate now houses a community centre, but the New Manor House – a museum.

I frequently come to Alūksne, however the inside of the museum is not the place that presents serious competition to other pastimes on offer.

Once more confirming the pestilence of malfunctioning visual communication already witnessed during earlier museum expeditions, at the Alūksne Museum, too, we come across two information boards – one at the museum entrance at Pils iela 74, and the other one at the museum premises on the first floor. Both are such a hotchpotch and so poorly laid out that it is not easy to get an immediate picture of what the museum’s programmatic line is. It should also be added that information about what the museum offers on the district council’s website(2) can neither be easily found, nor is encouraging for an individual adult visitor.

20.01.2011 - 14:55

Una Sedleniece, Culture Theorist

Published in visual arts magazine Studija No. 73 (August/September 2010).

Translator into English: Uldis Brūns

“What could be the expectations, hopes and assumptions of the various museum visitors about a particular museum? What are mine?” the attentive museum visitor silently asks himself and then answers.(1) Arriving in Latgale around the time of the summer solstice, I am enticed by the multi-coloured clay hillocks covered in flowers and the refreshing lakes, but any critique or the airing of deep rooted preconceptions and the re-evaluation of values is far from my mind. I want to be carried away, to go with the flow and to marvel, but in the end – I also want to discover and understand. Because Latgale is such a special part of Latvia, and it is not only strangers but also other residents of Latvia who often lack information about this region. The museum institution in itself doesn’t guarantee the direct and immediate acquirement of knowledge. However, a museum experience can awaken emotions, satisfy curiosity and in this way – foster understanding and increase knowledge.

The profile of the Latgale Culture and History Museum in Rēzekne is similar to many other Latvian local history and art museums. However, it is not only the cultural and historical custodian of the city, but also the whole region, as promised by the museum’s name and mission statement: “The Latgale Cul¬ture and History Museum exists to shape the image of Rēzekne as the heart of Latgale, through museum related means, and to reflect its history from its very beginnings until today, to research cultural and historical processes in Latgale, in this way creating interest about the area in the whole community and thus becoming a significant tourist attraction.”(2)

18.01.2011 - 13:03

Una Sedleniece, Culture Theorist

Published in visual arts magazine Studija issue No. 72 (June/July 2010).

Translator into English: Filips Birzulis

As regards Stone Age art museums, there is an absence of incontrovertible facts. There is, however, evidence that artists were working at that time. One of the first artists working in the territory of Latvia was a resident of the Madona region – the unknown creator of the Lubāna Apollo.

Near Lubāna, at an encampment on the Abora Rover, archaeologists have found a late Neolithic bone figure, thus far the only one of its kind to be found in Latvia. It terms of popularity it cannot compete with another example of the genre, the spatially and temporally distant Venus of Willendorf in Austria.(1) However, in 2008 our Apollo almost became a media star: it was included in the top thirty list of the visual arts section in the Cultural Canon of Latvia, as an artwork which has been an inspiration in the field of visual culture within the territory of Latvia from ancient times to the end of the 20th century.(2)

There are a couple of dozen museums in Latvia that each have some combination involving the word ‘art’ in their names: ‘history and art’, ‘regional studies and art’ or simply ‘art’ museums. However, even more than their names, museums differ from one another in their carefully crafted mission statements, seeking to answer the question: why is the museum necessary?

17.01.2011 - 09:20

Una Sedleniece, Culture Theorist

Published in visual arts magazine Studija issue No. 71 (April/May 2010).

Translator into English: Filips Birzulis.

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but maybe it’s just a logical outcome that there is no other museum outside Riga which has been directly linked to so many books from our most serious art publishers, from which we can find out that one of the most valuable Latvian pre-war art collections is found right there in Tukums.(1) This is thanks to – as we find out in the books – the area’s most enthusiastic artists, as well as the meaningful activities of museum employees and the understanding of local decision-makers for the past seventy five years.(2)

To get some idea of what the Tukums Museum offers, it is recommended to take a look at The virtual museum home-page created with simple resources doesn’t stand out with any special visual lushness or refined graphic design, but its quality is testified by its understandable and well-structured information, practical illustrative materials and the main thing: its up-to-dateness. An insight into the museum’s collection acquisition policies and practices can be gained by accessing the Tukums Museum section of the National Museum collection online catalogue

16.01.2011 - 15:04

Una Sedleniece, Culture Theorist

Published in visual arts magazine Studija issue No. 70 (February/March 2010). 

Translator into English: Filips Birzulis

There are words and events that leave a deep impression on the collective identity and scale of values. Our nation’s museums also offer a dialogue about identity and values too. Day to day they carry out careful, patient work to ensure that important testimonies to our past are stored, preserved, studied and made accessible to all of society. This year, I plan to visit six museums in Latvia’s regions in search of the cultural and historical footprints of our visual art heritage. I will allow the museum experience to shape and reinforce my convictions, stir up emotions and transform my everyday world. Let’s begin with Janis Rozentāls.