2003 Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania
The annual meeting, September 2-7, was held in Latvia and Estonia with a post-conference trip to Lithuania. “Museum for the Town, Town for the Museum” was the theme. It was a very successful meeting, with visits to many different types of
museums in contemporary and historic buildings and the World Heritage town centers of Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius. Fascinating presentations on such topics as design and restoration of Latvian museums, the social character of the museum in the modern town, the role of various types of museums in towns and
the museums of occupations in Latvia and Estonia provoked many open and lively discussions.
The group stayed in Riga for the first few days. The arrival to Riga began with a tour of the medival town center and the fine Art Nouveau/Jugendstil buildings, unparalleled anywhere in the world. That evening the group was welcomed with a tour and dinner in the Riga History and Navigation Museum, starting with
an organ concert in the Dome church. Wednesday and Thursday included informative meetings, tours and receptions at the Latvia State Art Museum, the Occupation Museum of Latvia, the Museum of Decorative Arts, St. Peter’s Church, the House of
Blackheads, Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia, Durbe Palace (Tukums), Tukums Old Town, and the Pastarins Museum (Bisnieki Farmstead). A day trip to Ventspils on the coast of the Baltic Sea on Friday included a tour of the Ventspils Museum in the
Ventspils Castle and a lively discussion of the reconstruction of the castle. The afternoon was spent at the Outdoor Ethnographic Museum of Kurzeme, including a train ride on the grounds and short walk on the beach. The next day the group left Riga for Estonia with a stop at the Turaida Museum Reserve before reaching the Estonian border.
The final two days of the meeting were in Tallinn, Estonia. The group arrived in Tallinn Saturday evening and spent the evening at the Museum of Estonian Architecture, located in the Rotermann Salt Storage building. We viewed an interesting exhibit on urbanization in the early 20th century in Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia and had the farewell dinner. On Sunday, the group toured the baroque Kadriorg Palace, built as a temporary summer palace by Peter I, and now housing the foreign art collection of the Art Museum of Estonia, as well as the construction site for the new home of the Art Museum of Estonia, designed by Finnish architect Pekka Vapaavuori. At the newly opened Occupation Museum, the director, Heiki Ahonen, presented an overview of this museum, dedicated to the 1931-1991 occupations by Germany and the Soviet Union, with comments by the architects. Exhibits include audiovisual displays, photographs and sound recordings of the events of this era. The ICAMT business meeting was held at the Museum of Occupations of Estonia. The remaining time was free to see the historic center (Old Town) of Tallinn, an outstanding and well-preserved example of a medieval northern European trading city that retains the prominent features of this type of economic and social community. That evening the group departed for the return trip to Riga.
The post conference tour began Monday, September 8 with a bus trip to Klaipeda and then a ferry to Smiltyne on the Curonian Split and the Lithuanian Sea Museum. After an entertaining performance and tour, the group headed south into the Kursiu Nerija National Park, recognized as a significant cultural landscape on the World Heritage List. The group stayed in Nida and the evening was free for visits to several museums, including the Thomas Mann Cultural Center. The next morning the group visited the Parnidis Dune to get a panoramic view of this
outstanding landscape. The tour continued to Kaunas for lunch at the Devil’s Museum Café and a visit to the M.K. Ciurlionis National Museum of Art. From Kaunas the group traveled to Vilnius. In Vilnius, the group received a very complete presentation of the reconstruction of the Lower Castle and tour of the construction site. The group had a guided walk through Vilnius Old Town, a well preserved complex of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and classical buildings in its medieval layout and natural setting.
The group had a traditional dinner before leaving for
Many thanks go to the staffs at all of the museums that were visited and our Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian colleagues. The experience was unique and inspiring for all ICAMT members who attended.
Special thanks go to Agrita Ozola, chair of the Latvian National Committee and director of the Tukums Museum who first proposed this meeting; Karina Halla-Murula, chair of the Estonian National Committee and director of the Museum of Estonian
Architecture; and Loreta Marija Meskeleviciene, Chair of the ICOM Lithuania National Committee and Head Curator of the Lithuanian Art Museum. Also special thanks to Vita Rinkevica who was our contact in Latvia for this conference and organized the agenda, hotels, transportation and many other things! She was responsible for the very attractive graphic materials designed specifically for the meeting.