On Thursday 21 June, at 16.00, a new exhibition Oto Bongs. Krājējs (Otto Bong. Collector) will be opened in the Level 5 exhibition hall of the National Library of Latvia (NLL). After the Second World War, Baltic-German bibliophile Otto Bong (1918-2006), residing in West Germany, consistently and purposefully established one of the largest and most diverse collections of testimonies relating to Baltic history, known since 1951 as the Baltic Central Library. The exhibition is open until 30 December. Entrance is free.
The Otto Bong collection – printed items, images, manuscripts and other documents – is a diverse reflection of the cultural, political and economic history of the Baltic region. It features books from public and private libraries that once existed in Latvia and Estonia, or belonged to personalities with links to the Baltics. Various significant, in some cases, even unique items, have complemented Bong’s collection as gifts, purchases at auctions or flea markets.
Otto Bong described receiving the news from Latvia in May 1990 – about the adoption of the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia – as the most beautiful gift on his birthday, which allowed him to definitively decide on the fate of his collection, to send it to Latvia. According to the 1994 agreement between Otto Bong and the NLL, his collection is accessible to every visitor to the NLL.
The exhibition reveals the paths Otto Bong took as a collector and his links with the exiled Latvian community, as well as introducing some of the most valuable and culturally and historically interesting artefacts, collected over several decades. Among the exhibits are items related to architect Reinhold Guleki, historian Karl von Löwis of Menar, journalist and public figure Paul Schiemann and linguist Georg Gerullis, as well as images of buildings and historical events, already partly familiar to the public from the Zudusī Latvija (In Search of Lost Latvia) digital collection.
The exhibition has been curated by Viesturs Zanders PhD, design is by Ilze Kalnbērziņa-Praz.
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