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"Tā kā neesmu bibliotekāre". Latvijas kultūras nosargātās vērtības un Mērijas Grīnbergas, jaunākās mūžs
"As I'm not a Librarian": Preserved Values of Latvian Culture and the Life of Mērija Grīnberga Junior

Author(s): Jānis Kalnačs
Subject(s): Cultural history
Published by: Mākslas vēstures pētījumu atbalsta fonds
Keywords: Mērija Grīnberga Junior; Grosvalds familiy; Latvian National History Museum; Latvian National Art Museum; State History Archives; collections; museums; Nazi occupation; evacuation of collections

Summary/Abstract: Although Mērija Grīnberga junior (24 May 1909 – 28 February 1975) came from the Grosvalds family, one of the most renowned patrician families in Riga, her life and work has not received the attention it deserves when compared to other members of the family; for example, her grandfather Frīdrihs Grosvalds, famous lawyer and Head of Riga Latvian Society, his children – painter Jāzeps Grosvalds who introduced moderate contemporary trends in early 20th century Latvian art and the diplomat and art historian Oļģerds Grosvalds and their mother Mērija Grīnberga senior, promoter of Latvian folk art and founder of a popular salon of applied arts. The life of Mērija Grīnberga jun. is closely related to several museums in Latvia, including the present Latvian National History Museum where she worked in the late 1930s, during World War II and for a short period in the 1940s, and the Latvian National Art Museum where she worked as a librarian from 1958 till the end of her life. The most important episode featuring in her memories comes from the year-and-a half journey from October 1944 to February 1946, accompanying the most valuable items of the major Riga museum collections that Nazi Germany’s state institutions ordered to be evacuated to the Opava region in Sudety (now part of the Czech Republic) shortly before the Soviet Army recaptured Riga. These items came from the City Art Museum (now the Latvian National Museum of Art), State History Museum (now Latvian National History Museum) and its branch, the Dome Museum (now the Riga Museum of History and Navigation), the State History Archives and the Riga History Archives. The State History Museum collection contained thousands of documents and artworks packed in more than 400 boxes and transported in 11 wagons. They ended up in the American zone at the end of war, having crossed almost half of Europe several times, including Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria and Hungary. Thanks to Mērija Grīnberga, who volunteered to accompany them, they returned to Riga with minimal losses. For example, the numismatics collection from the Dome Museum had been stolen and various glass and ceramic items were broken during reloading). So the fate of these collections has been better than that of many others ravaged and lost by the end of World War II. Among the regained collections there is a significant part (257 paintings) from the present Foreign Art Museum collection of Western European painting, the Archaeology and Ethnography Museum collection from the National History Museum, a large part of the most valuable pieces from the Riga Museum of History and Navigation and the oldest documents from the State History Archives. Immediately after their return the collections were partly exhibited in Riga museums and the press mentioned that they had been regained by the heroic units of the Soviet Army. Mērija Grīnberga was not even thanked for her selflessness and care that went far beyond the call of duty.

  • Issue Year: 2006
  • Issue No: 06-07
  • Page Range: 77-89
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Latvian