pictures by Didzis Grodzs, Creative Museum

Building a Museum

Focus on Museums and Creative Industries

7-9 September 2017 | Riga, Latvia

Museum as a catalyst for creativity and growth, a key factor in a larger regeneration plan? Museums have been playing a central role in the regeneration game of the cities, at least since the (Guggenheim) Bilbao effect. This NEMO event, together with NEMO's partner Think Tank Creative Museum, looked at how capital investments in museums in Riga contribute to the economy and social cohesion of the capital city of Latvia. The focus on museums and creative industries was explored through practical approaches to the topic with visits to the Riga Motor Museum, the Latvian National Museum of Art, Zanis Lipke Memorial and the Latvian National Museum of History. In these locations, the concepts of the museums were approached from the different perspectives of architects, designers and museum professionals.

Complete programme

Day 1

Following a warm get together on 7 September 2017, the conference kicked off in the morning of 8 September 2017 at the Riga Motor Museum. After a welcome by Raivies Simansons, museologist and co-founder of the Think Tank Creative Museums, and David Vuillaume, chair of NEMO, the director of the Riga Motor Museum, Aivars Aksenoks, gave a brief overview of the history of the museum and introduced the objectives of its reconstruction. The museum was incorporated in the Road Traffic Safety Department in 2009 and has an institutional connection to the Latvian ministry of transport. Among other things they also conduct the examination for the "bicycle pass" for young bike riders. His perspective on the exhibition development process was subjoined by Dagnija Baloda from the H2E design company, which designed the exhibition and many of its interactive stations together with the museum. Over the time the discussion sparked several different debates between designers and curators. A very different project from Riga was introduced by Toms Erenpreiss, who founded the bicycle building company Erenpreiss in Latvia and marketed his products without a budget through community activites and social media. Showing examples of how even on a small budget but driven by passion great achievements can be made.
Following the presentations, participants were taken on a tour through the museum.

After the lunch break the conference saw the NEMO Working Groups LEM -The Learning Museum, Museums and Creative Industries and Advocacy and Public Affairs meet at the Latvian National Museum of Art. They discussed their next Working Plans, latest results and common challenges. Following the meetings, the participants converged for a session focussing on the Latvian National Museum of Art's road from conception to realisation. While the architect emphasised the combination of the historic building and a certain openness, the designer's aimed at a modern approach playing with the museum's history, and the museum focused on the emotional value. This lead into a joint approach to the identity of the museum and its community. The creative spark for the process tends to come from within the museum.

A presentation by Chris Bailey, museum consultant, prefaced the concluding discussion between Sandis Voldins, State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Siebe Weide, General Director of the Netherlands Museums Association and him. It raised the demands for museums to be less restrained to enable more creative thinking as well as open collections to invite creative thinkers to work with what museums have to offer.

As a last stop of the day, the upcoming Art Centre "Zuzeum" was introduced to the participants.

Day 2

The second day started at the Zanis Lipke Memorial. The architecture of the museum is strongly connected to the history of Zanis Lipke, who saved 55 Jewish citizens during the occupation by the Nazi regime from 1941-1944, and anchored to the original structure of the hiding place as reconstructed from accounts of previously rescued Jews and even drawings. Maris Gailis, founder of the museum, explained its development and the engagement of artists in its conception as well as the challenges in funding the project. A tour through part of the exhibition gave room for further explorations.

After the lunch break the group meet for the last part of the tour at the Riga Castle, former location of the Latvian National Museum of History. The architect for the reconstruction project, Reinis Liepins, gave an elaborate tour of the premises and introduced the participants to the manifold challenges and requirements that have to be considered during the process.

The four different locations all showed how the relationship between museums and creative industries can develop and what obstacles and challenges remain.

NEMO would like to thank its partner Think Tank Creative Museum for the organisation as well as ICOM Latvia, Art Centre Zuzeum, Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga Motor Museum, Zanis Lipke Memorial, Latvian National Museum of History, Sudraba Arhitektura, Design Studio H2E, Dd studio and the Ministry of Culture, Latvia.