When I finally was able to spend some time in Riga (one of the must see city for anyone who’s an Art Nouveau addicted) I was informed about the existence of an Jugendstil museum, right in the outstanding zone between Alberta and Elizabetes iela, where are also located the masterpieces of the Latvian architect Mikhail Eisenstein.
At the number 13 of Elizabetes iela is located the museum. The building itself is an apartment house designed in 1904 by Kostantins Peksens, one of the most famous Latvian architect at the turn of the Century.
The building itself, maybe, shouldn’t be considered one of the major work of Peksens. The building is still filled with eclectic elements, with the roof contour heavily influenced by late German renaissance style.
The very interesting part of the building resides in its interior. The apartment on last floor was loaned by the famous symbolist Latvian painter Janis Rozentals (and, eventually, that apartment hosts now the Rozentals museum in Riga) who was friend and often cooperates with Peksens himself. For that reason, most of the internal common areas of the apartment house is fully decorated by Rozentals’ own design. So the main entrance presents four frescos:
And the staircase is filled by abstract symbolist decorative elements, due to Rozentals himself, which represents an outstanding evidence of the excellence reached by the Latvian decorative art at the turn of the Century. The paintings and the stairs were fully restored, and are now in incredible PROOF condition:
The former apartment at the first floor is now hosting the museum itself. again, the walls and roof of the apartment-museum is also fully decorated and restored
The decoration in this case is mostly stylized floral elements with some pure abstract ones. Lines are curved and flexuous, colors delicate and pastels . Again, the restoration was performed at highest professional level. In some part you can still see the original situation prior the restoration process:
Finally the museum. Really it is a reconstruction of the flat original environment. All the furniture was restored or chosen close to the original. The philological work behind was so accurate that one of the museum assistant told me she regrets one heating convector was lost and they had to chose one which is probably close to the original one but they actually haven’t any evidence. Overall impression entering the museum is really being introduced into a living flat of a middle class turn of the century family:
I was impressed this small lecture corner surrounded by windows, and just like placed by a huge carved wood frame:
Everything is restored, placed and preserved with such an accurate and professional way that, really, visiting the museum enforced my idea that Riga is more than just one of the capital of Jugendstil, Art Nouveau. Latvian are not simply hosting that heritage, they are proud of their own artists and masterpieces of the turn of the Century. This is a way mostly of the other so called capital cities of Art Nouveau trough Europe should achieve, one day, hopefully …