Building of the Latvian National Museum of Art has been put into operation and is waiting for its first visitors on the open days

On Tuesday, 1 December, the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Krišjāņa Valdemāra Street 10a has been put into operation, after completion of reconstruction and restoration works of the historic building.

A national significance architectural monument – the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art – had served already for 107 years, without overhaul. Therefore, it was decided to perform reconstruction works and expansion of the building with a purpose to create a contemporary museum infrastructure for displaying and preservation of artworks. On 22 January 2013, a construction agreement with ”RE&RE” Ltd and an agreement was signed with the Central Finance and Contracting Agency on ERAF financing for the project.

The Director General of ”RE&RE” Ltd Didzis Putniņš: ”On 22 January 2013, when signing the agreement on performing construction and restoration works, I mentioned that entrusting performance of these works is not only a huge honour and responsibility, but also the project will be difficult and we will face many challenges, which also showed in reality. Including the construction of the new underground space on the historical riverbed, 6 meters below the ground and its connection to the hundred year old building, which was further interfered by previously unforeseen high level and pressure of groundwater, the historical building of the museum, which is more than 100 years old, has experienced the first grand reconstruction and restoration in its history. This and many other challenges, which arose during implementation of this project, were successfully solved due to the close teamwork with the contractor, architect and our professional engineers and excellent renovators. Thank you all for your cooperation!”

The speech of the Director of LNMA Māra Lāce was the most emotional: ”Early this morning I looked through my notes – in 1929 the then Director of the Latvian Museum of Art Vilhelms Purvītis addressed Riga City Council stating that expansion is very, very necessary for the museum. Later, he did it repeatedly and in 1938 the Council decided ”no”, because the project was too complicated. Year 2010 came and the Property Department of Riga City Council announced a tender for construction drafts. I am very glad to be here. I always had a feeling that I am looking at everything like from the sidelines, however, now sitting in this chair I understand – yes, we have come back home.”

Considering the unique architecture of the Latvian National Museum of Art building, its representative status and significance in the context of cultural heritage of Latvia, the strategy of museum reconstruction is formed by three aspects: heritage, aesthetic and functional. The design involved preservation of capacity of the existing building and authentic details; to create explicit modern premises with minimum design solutions in the additional premises, and implement changes in the functional strategy of the existing building.

The volume for exhibitions of the museum historical building has been increased through creating exhibition halls with an area of 598 m² in the attic room and dome. In order to ensure brightness of attic rooms, a glass roof with overhead lighting was installed. Also terraces are constructed on the roof of the building. Metal evacuation stairs from third floor to the dome floor have been installed.
Additional stairs with brass finish have been constructed connecting the first and second floor. The newly constructed passenger elevator can be used for getting from the semi-basement floor to the newly created roof terraces. Now the building is also adapted for people with special needs. Conference and cafe premises, as well as a playroom for children and souvenir shop have been created.

Also there are new museum premises – the underground space of 3545 m², 777 m² of which are occupied by exhibition halls, the large underground hall – 583 m2. The second floor is situated 8.600 m below the ground level (in the area of cargo elevator – even 11.025 m). The underground premises will also include the museum archive and storage rooms.
The surrounding territory is illuminated and landscaped. Also a glazed atrium with brass finish is created.

The Director of the Property Department of Riga City Council Oļegs Burovs: ”It was the most complicated object starting from attracting finances to technical solutions”. Costs of the entire process of construction works constituted 29 802 142 euros. The financing provided by Riga City Council was 16 751 244 euros, whereas 13 050 898 euros were attracted from the European Union funds.

From 12-16 December 2015, there will be Open Days event for the public, where each interested person will have a chance to become acquainted with the reconstruction and restoration works completed in the museum. Already at the beginning of the next year the museum will start gradual moving to the new premises. Approximately 40 000 works of art will be transferred to the new premises.
A solemn opening ceremony of LNMA for visitors is scheduled to take place on 4 May 2016.