Latvia - Libraries and museums

In 1940, the libraries of Latvia were nationalized and placed under state control. For the next 50 years the library system was poorly maintained. As of 2000, those libraries that remain open are overcrowded and in poor physical condition. In 1997, the country counted 998 public libraries housing 14.9 million volumes. In the 1990s, the Latvian government authorized the construction of a new National Library to be designed by the American architect G. Birkerts. The National Library in Riga holds 2.1 million volumes as it awaits its new home. The Latvian Academic Library in Riga holds 3.1 million volumes and the University of Latvia holds 1.7 million.

The larger museums are located in Riga, including the State Museum of Fine Arts, the History Museum of Latvia, and the Museum of Foreign Art. In 1990, Bauska Castle was converted into an historic museum. The Bauska Art Museum holds over 8,000 works of art by Russian and Western European artists. With the end of the Soviet era, a number of new museums devoted to Latvian culture and history opened in the 1990s, including museums of architecture, photography, telecommunications, Jewish life in Latvia, and a museum chronicling 50 years of Soviet occupation.

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