“Latvians Abroad” Museum – Collection, Outreach, Accreditation

The Museum “Latvians Abroad” (“Latvieši pasaulē” or LaPa, for short) is the only institution in the world that is entirely devoted to compiling and exhibiting the activities of Latvians around the globe. Last year the Museum Board set the goal of gaining state accreditation from the Latvian Ministry of Culture, because accreditation will add the Museum’s collection to Latvian cultural heritage, thus ensuring its long-term viability and availability, and open up more government support.

We are happy to report that during 2019  the Museum  has moved significantly closer to that goal. Thanks to donations from members of the diaspora and in Latvia as well as some support from the Latvian government, the Museum Board was able to hire a full-time collections manager. She has started a systematic, detailed and extensive description of the more than 8000 units in the collection, according to the rules for accredited Latvian museums. But the task is huge, and we have realized that in order to bring the collection in compliance with all the elaborate rules for accreditation, we will need to hire another collections staff member in 2020.

The work with accreditation is only one aspect of the activities of the “Latvians Abroad” Museum last year. The major new undertaking for the year has been the Exhibit and Escape room Refugee Paths about the experiences of refugees as they fled Latvia during the waning days of World War II. It is open to all interested persons in groups of up to 7 and has become one of the most popular programs for secondary school field trips in Latvia. Come visit us! You can set up a date by calling +371 2657 2789 or writing to lapainfo@gmail.com.

The three exhibits that Museum staff and associated experts created for Latvia’s centennial last year have continued to be available to the public in various venues. The hugely popular Story Quilt can now be viewed online. It was also exhibited at Sēļu Mansion in Vidzeme during the summer.  The multimedia exhibit I, too, am a Latvian, was exhibited in Liepāja and Vidzeme University in Valmiera. The travelling exhibit Song Festivals Outside Latvia  was exhibited in the Song Festivals in Ireland and Canada, as well as at six venues in Latvia. Our Museum’s materials form a part of and can still be viewed at the joint centenary exhibit at the Latvian National History Museum.  In addition, some materials are also deposited to other memory institutions in Latvia and abroad and can be viewed in their exhibits.

Every month we show an Object of the Month with its story and the wider context in the Latvian National Library atrium.

To reach out in a more personal way to people interested in diaspora history and questions, we held four Fall LaPa Outreach and Discussion Evenings on topics of interest to the Museum and the diaspora.

During field work in Norway we collected new, valuable materials for the Museum, including objects and stories from recent emigrants from Latvia. We receive new and valuable historic items every day that attest to the activities of Latvians abroad during various periods in history. Last year the Museum accepted 1682 new items, for a total of more than 8000.

All this has been accomplished with very modest financing and a small staff.

For the next year the museum’s goals are:

  • to finish processing the collection for accreditation,
  • to continue our outreach and work with schools; and
  • to build a major exhibition about emigre anti-Soviet activities, Nyet, Nyet Soviet, to be shown at the Railroad Museum in the summer of 2020.

Even though the Museum has made great strides in bringing the collection in compliance with prescribed norms and fulfilling the other obligations for accreditation, it has become obvious to us that the job is too huge for one person alone. Therefore, the Museum is having a fundraising campaign to raise $20,000 in order to hire another collections staff member in 2020. We are happy that a supporter has offered to donate $5000, but only if the Museum raises another $15,000 by Dec. 31, 2019.

Donations to the Museum can be made in several ways:

From Latvia and elsewhere:  Electronic funds transfer to the museum’s bank account (please indicate the name, address and email of the donor):
“Latvieši pasaulē – muzejs un pētniecības centrs”
Swedbank account nr. LV15HABA0551018556914,
Registration nr. 40008119789

Via credit card, follow instructions on the Museum’s webpage.

US residents can receive a tax break for their donations. Write checks out to:

Latvian Diaspora Museum Fund, c/o M. Voldins, 131 Langdon St, Newton, MA 02458, USA

Canadian residents can receive a tax break for donations through the Daugavas Vanagi Kanāda, noting that the donation is meant for “LaPa Muzejs”. Cheques can be made out to the “Latvian Relief Society of Canada – Daugavas Vanagi”.

Postal address:  Ms. Gunta Reynolds, Daugavas Vanagi Kanādā, 4 Credit Union Drive, Toronto, ON M4A 2N8