Museum of Contemporary art - a new public space
Inese Baranovska
The Future Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art

Conference poster
A museum in the 21st century cannot be just a vault for the safe-keeping of valuable treasures; it should be a living, constantly evolving organism, it should create a favourable environment for contemporary art and live with its eyes on the future: this was the common concept on which everyone - invited lecturers and audience members (curators, journalists, state officials) alike - was in agreement at the conference discussing the future Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art, which took place on 12 October, 2007, at the Dirty Deal CafÈ in Andrejsala, and was organised by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia and the Contemporary Art Museum Collection Development Department of State Agency Jaunie "Trīs brāļi" with the support of Aizkraukles banka.

At the conference we heard many talented people express their open and candid reflections on the processes of contemporary art, the role of art institutions in these processes, and the new forms of dialogue between art professionals and the public. The event brought together many illustrious minds: Peter Weibel, one of the leading European authorities on media art and director of the ZKM Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany; art historian and curator Leonid Bazhanov, artistic director of the Russian National Centre of Contemporary Art; Rasa Šmite and Raitis Šmits, founders of RIXC New Media Centre and creators of the international Art+Communication festival (Riga, Latvia); architect Reinier de Graaf, a partner of OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) architecture firm and director of its subsidiary company, AMO (Rotterdam, the Netherlands); as well as representatives of the International Commission of Experts for Developing the Collection of the Contemporary Art Museum: Helēna Demakova, Minister of Culture; Ernests Bernis, Chairman of the Council of Aizkraukles banka; Maaretta Jaukkuri, curator of Kiasma contemporary art museum in Helsinki, Finland, and professor at the NTNU Trondheim Academy of Fine Art in Norway; internationally renowned contemporary art consultant and gallerist Norbert Weber (Germany);  Sirje Helme, Estonian curator, art critic and director of KUMU Art Museum; Raminta Jurėnaitė, art critic and professor at the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Lithuania; Ieva Astahovska, art critic and expert with the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art; artist Leonards Laganovskis; Māra Ādiņa, head of the Visual Art and Visual Communications Department of the Ministry of Culture; and Astrīda Rogule, head of the Contemporary Art Museum Collection Development Department at State Agency Jaunie "Trīs brāļi".

One of the emotionally richest moments of the conference was the presentation delivered by Maaretta Jaukkuri: with sensitive precision, speaking in a calm, composed voice, she related her insights into the mission of art and its institutions today - how to position a museum to represent both national and international art, how to cultivate a public-friendly environment, how to bring an individual lost in the labyrinths of consumerist society to find an interest in art. Here we present the written version of Maaretta Jaukkuri's lecture.

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