National History Museum of Latvia and National Constitution Center (Philadelphia, U.S.) project about civic engagement experiences in past and today has been approved
National History Museum of Latvia together with the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, U. S. has received a grant to implement an international project “At the table: Connecting Culture, Conversation and Service in Latvia and the U.S.” The grant has been funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the American Association of Museums. A special program – Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad (MCCA) is made to further international cooperation between museums and promote more intensive communication between societies and museums worldwide. More than $145,000 have been assigned for the project. Important assistance for the Museum in Riga also is provided by the U.S. Embassy in Latvia.
The aim of the project is to strengthen understanding about the importance of civic engagement in both societies – in the past and today – as well as to further dialogue between different cultures and ethnic groups within both societies in the U.S. and Latvia. In Latvia and the U.S., both institutions will actively cooperate with secondary schools and students will work on similar activities with their peers overseas.
In Latvia, the experience of the independence movement during the late 1980s and early 1990s will be researched by students as a world-scale example of the power of civic engagement and nonviolent resistance. Project participants also will investigate how the attitude against political processes and civic engagement has changed in the last twenty years since Latvia regained its independence. Students from Latvian and bilingual schools in Riga and other regions will communicate with the local leaders of the independence movement to record interviews and invite them to informal meetings. The project partner schools will be Riga 10th Secondary School, Secondary Schools of Cultures in Riga and Lizums Seconday School.
To underscore that civic engagement is not only important during periods of historical transformations, students also will implement service projects. During spring 2012, students from the U.S. and Latvia will visit their peers overseas to prepare a documentary that will reflect the importance of civic engagement in both a historical and current perspective in both countries.
The project documentary premiere is planned for June 2012. The National History Museum of Latvia also will present a mobile exhibition prepared with help of the U. S. Embassy in Latvia. During the project, a new web-resource also will be prepared. The web page will serve as a drop-box and place for discussions about the project themes for students in both countries.
For more information, please contact National History Museum of Latvia or Public Affairs Office (contact information below).
Project Coordinator, History Department Researcher
Āraiši Museum - Park joined with the National History Museum of Latvia
On the 13th of March, at press conference in the Ministry of Culture it was officially declared that Museum Park of Āraiši joined with the National History Museum of Latvia. Minister of Culture Helēna Demakova, director of National History Museum of Latvia Arnis Radiņš and archeologists Jānis Apals and Zigrīda Apala participated in that press conference.
The Museum Park of Āraiši is the cultural-historical monument which is located in the district of Cēsis. The museum is the Lake Castle, which consists of reconstructions of buildings of Stone and Bronze Age where settlement of Latgalians in 9th – 11th century was. There are also ruins of medieval castle dated back to Livonian time. Up to now this museum park was managed by Lake Castle fund of Āraiši, but now the complex became a part of National History Museum of Latvia.
On the 2nd of January, 2008 according to the decision of Ministry of Culture a new department of archaeological museum park of Āraiši was organized within the National History Museum of Latvia. The head of department is an archeologist Anda Vilka. Now a full name of the museum park is Open-air archaeological museum of Āraši Lake Castle.
The Museum Park of Araiši joined the National history museum due to some reasons. First, it was not accredited as a museum. Secondly, reconstruction of buildings was used up and it was necessary to change and to restore some buildings, to preserve castle ruins as well as to conduct a number of other works, which the structure with the limited museum functions cannot carry out.
From 2008 till 2012 the National history museum of Latvia plans to finish the reconstruction and restoration of Lake Castle and to preserve medieval ruins and to provide accommodations for activities and offices for museum staff, to provide water supply and electricity; as well as to enlarge the exposition about archeological excavations in Araiši and to prepare different museum- pedagogical programs with contemporary interactive methods to study the history of Latvia. According to the plans, the museum park will receive the visitors during all the year.
The Museum Park of Āraiši is Jānis Apals’s creation and life-work. In Soviet Latvia a special attention was given to a study of the territory of ancient Latagalians. And archeologist Jānis Apals began to research the underwater archaeological monuments of Latvia.
In 1965 - 1969, 1975 - 1979 archaeological excavations were carried out in Araiši Lake Castle because the water level of the Araiši Lake was low enough. In the result of that excavations about 2 000 antiquities were found, which became the evidence about a way of life of Latgalians in the 9th – 11th centuries.
Reconstruction of Araiši Lake Castle was started in 1980. It became one of the most popular and attractive tourism objects in Latvia. Until 2007 Araiši Museum Park was under the jurisdiction of the Fund of Araiši Lake Castle, which was managed by the archeologist Jānis Apals - one of the founders of the European association of Open-air archaeological museums, and also one of the participants in the project of European cultural program “living archeology”.