Work on a Latvian Diaspora Museum Has Begun

January 14, 2009

There are plans to open a museum about Latvian emigration and of Latvians abroad in five years. To achieve this goal, an association, „Latvians Abroad – Museum and Research Center” (LA-MRC) has been founded. In November, 2008 the organization launched a website,, which provides information about the development of the museum.

The web page also includes information about a ‘suitcase’ exhibition currently being developed, which will display the personal belongings of Latvians who emigrated in different historical periods. One object, a suitcase, illustrates the broader story of the emigration of the Latvian people in the 20th century. The Simson family used this suitcase a number of times: the first time, they traveled with the suitcase to Latvia from Ukraine, where the family had sought refuge during the First World War. The second time, the suitcase accompanied the family’s escape to Germany during the Second World War when the Russian front line advanced over Latvia. The suitcase was used by the Simson family during their time in Displaced Persons camps, and later was taken with them when they moved to their new home in the state of Iowa, USA. It is envisaged that the suitcase will return to Latvia in autumn 2009 as an exhibit in LaPa’s first traveling exhibition.

The story of the Simson family is one of the many stories that have come to the attention of the association “Latvians Abroad – Museum and Research Center”. Information about emigrants from various different eras is currently being compiled – about their motivations, travels, contribution to Latvian society and life in the diaspora. The association is governed by a board elected at the annual general meeting. One employee in Rīga and volunteers in Latvia and abroad are working towards finding a site for the museum outside of Rīga, developing traveling exhibitions, recruiting members and supporters, securing funding and developing a collection policy. Amongst supporters of the museum are the Latvian Minister of Culture, Helēna Demakova, and other Latvian government, local council and cultural workers, and representatives of international migration organizations, such as Knut Djupedal, director of the Norwegian Emigrant Museum.

The web page is in three languages – Latvian, English and German – and has been funded by The Secretariat of the Special Assignment Minister for Social Integration and the Cultural Foundation of the American Latvian Association.

Further information: Marianna Auliciema, Office manager
Tel: +371 29175510