On its 97th anniversary on 29 August 2016, the National Library of Latvia will unveil its permanent exhibition "Book in Latvia", a story of the history of Latvian book trade in a global context, inspired by the new image of the library.
Book museums and exhibitions exist in many national and university libraries in Europe, yet, with its new exhibition, the NLL tries to revise the conservative traditions of book exhibitions. "Book in Latvia" is being developed in accordance with contemporary museology concepts where the emphasis is on relating historical contents to contemporary reality; using modern design and making the exhibit accessible to different audiences.
The exhibit will inform about the book – both as a material object and a social and spiritual phenomenon that has changed and is changing people's lives and minds. Book as a medium has had a substantial impact on European culture and, with that in mind, the exhibition will not only serve as an introduction to the history of the book in Latvia but will attempt an answer to the question about the role of the book nowadays and in the future.
In the relatively small space occupied by the "Book in Latvia" exhibit, two different narrative threads will coexist: a fresh academic look at the history of book trade in the territory of Latvia in a global context, beginning with the Middle Ages and to the end of the 20th century, and three separate micro-exhibitions dedicated to the role books play in people's lives. In the part of the exhibition dedicated to the history of the book trade, visitors will be able to look at the books printed in Latvia or in Latvian, which have played an essential role in Latvian culture and identity. The micro-exhibit entitled "Senses" will explore the bodily experiences of a reader when interacting with a book. Here, it will be possible to have a hands-on tactile, audial, visual and even gustatory experience of the book. The micro-exhibit "Power" will consider the book as an instrument of power, both by having visitors experience what it is like to become an object of political manipulation and by reminding them of the sensations when one is in the grip of a powerful text. "Spirit", on the other hand, will not only let visitors discover the book as a medium of religious and secular spirituality, but also help them journey into the world of fantasy through a "live" book installation.
With the exhibit "Book in Latvia", its authors emphasize that formats and materials may change, but the idea of the book remains and the number of books in the world continues to grow even faster than the constantly growing number of people who know how to read and write.
The exhibition has been developed by an interdisciplinary team. The author of the idea is NLL Director Andris Vilks, and the project manager is Inga Surgunte. The exhibition is curated by historian Gustavs Strenga, museology specialist Maija Uzula-Petrovska and writer Pauls Bankovskis. The modern and challenging visual image of the exhibition is developed by the "Gaiss arhitekti" bureau in cooperation with "Associates, Partners et Sons" graphic design bureau. The exhibition is being developed with the participation of NLL and other leading book history experts.
Opening times starting 30 August
Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat 10.00–17.00
Wed, Fri 12.00–20.00
National Library of Latvia
Tel.: +371 26472501