In the heart of Old Riga, an ornate structure built in the Venetian Renaissance palazzo style has stood on Dome Square since the nineteenth century—the Riga Stock Exchange building Rīgas Birža. Over the years the building has experienced many different regimes and administrations, as well as large fires, which completely destroyed the hall on the fourth floor of the building. The last decade has been devoted to the building’s reconstruction, and on August 22 the restored Rīgas Birža opens its doors to visitors. The building is housing the Foreign Art Museum, which has moved from its previous location a few blocks away, in Riga Castle, to its beautiful and spacious facilities. Now, transactions with currency have been replaced by a much safer investment: the great wealth offered by the enjoyment of our cultural heritage.
Photo: Indriķis Stūrmanis
The Foreign Art Museum was founded in 1920 as the State Art Museum. In the ninety years of its existence, the museum has become the richest storehouse of foreign art in Latvia. The museum compiles works of art from various eras and nations, encompassing the time period from the fifth century BCE to the early twentieth century. The current museum collection consists of several large groups of art: Ancient Egypt, the Antique World, the Far East, and Western Europe art, which forms the largest part of the collection. The most remarkable collections consist of Dutch Golden Age art, German Romantic painting, Belgian art from the early 1930s, and the largest Eastern art collection in the Baltics, dominated by art from China, Japan, and India. In 2009 a new valuable gift was added to this collection: traditional Indonesian works of art.
Yuichi Higashionna. Untitled. 2010.Berengo studio collection. Photo: Francesco Allegretto
The Riga Stock Exchange is opened with several exhibits, including an extensive contemporary art exhibit entitled Glasstress Riga: Works from the Berengo Studio. This exhibit will serve as a link between the cities of Venice and Riga. In the exhibit, artists from various countries have created contemporary works of art in the Venetian (Murano) style. The project already achieved renown in 2009 in Venice, and took place this year as well, alongside the contemporary art biennale. A portion of the exhibit’s works were created in recent years precisely for the Berengo Studio’s contemporary art collection.
The Latvian National Art Museum is currently a large structure with many branches housed in five building. These include the museum’s central building, the Arsenals Exhibition Hall, the Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova Museum, the Decorative Art and Design Museum, and the Foreign Art Museum.