The date of the
foundation of the museum is considered to be 1869, when the
first City Art Gallery was opened to the public. In 1903, the
construction of the new building was entrusted to the museum's
first director Wilhelm Neumann. In 1905, the citizens saw the
new monumental building, one of the most beautiful in Riga.
The magnificent facade combined elements of Baroque and Classicism.
The exquisite sculptural group on the central pediment was created
by August Folz (1851-1926). In the interior various elements
of popular Art Nouveau have been used.
Nowadays the museum has two addresses:
Valdemara St., 10A and Torna St., 1. In 1989, the collection
of contemporary art moved into the new building Arsenals,
constructed at the beginning of the 19th century in the late
Russian classicism style by the architect I.E. De Witte. For
two centuries the Arsenals building has been used as a warehouse.
Only in the mid-1980s it was taken over by the Ministry of
Culture for the use of the museum of art.
The collection of the State Museum
of Art comprises 32,000 items making it the widest and most
significant collections of visual art in the country. Latvian
Art Collection is the biggest in the world. It reflects the
development of painting, drawing and sculpture in Latvia from
the middle of the 18 century till nowadays. The collection
is organized in such a way that visitors can trace not only
the general development of professional art, but the creative
development of the separate artist as well. The real gems
of the museum's collection are works by different Latvian
classical artists - Julijs Feders, Vilhelms Purvitis, Janis
Rozentals, Janis Valters, Konrads Ubans, Janis Liepins, Voldemars
Matvejs, Ludolfs Liberts, and others.
Although Foreign Art Collection is
not very big, it provides a comprehensive overview of the
development of Russian profesional fine arts. Even before
the City Art Museum was set up, Russian painters Ivan Ayvazovsky
and Alexey Bogolybov donated to the City Council their works.
Since then the collection has been constantly growing. Now
it includes works by Karl Brylov, Vasiliy Tropinin, Orest
Kiprensky, Ivan Ayvazovsky, Ivan Shishkin, Aleksey Savrasov,
Isaak Levitan. Pictures by artists who participated in the
Peredvizhniki movement (Vasiliy Surikov, Ilya Repin, Vasiliy
Perov, Grigoriy Mjasojedov, Vladimir Makovsky in the Collection)
are characteristic examples of Russian Realistic painting.
Artistic divergence at the turn of the 19-20th century is
clearly seen in the canvases by artists active in artist associations
Mir Isskustva, Bubnovij Valet and Golubaya roza (Alexander
Benois, Boris Kustodiyev, Ilya Mashkov, Filiph Malyavin, Nikolai
Sapunov). One must especially note a Collection of paintings
by Nikolai Roerich and Svyatoslav Roerich, a part of which
can be found on permanent display in the museum.
Address: Kr. Valdemara St., 10a
Phone: 371-7324461, 371-7325021
State Museum of Art. Exhibition Hall Arsenals
Address: Torna St., 1