THE PIEBALGA ART MUSEUM AND FORTUNES OF ITS COLLECTION (Piebalgas makslas muzejs un ta kolekcijas liktenis)
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The area of Piebalga is noted by several undertakings significant for the history of Latvian culture and society since the 19th century. The Piebalga Art Museum collection was assembled by the Jaunpiebalga-born painter and art critic Jekabs Strazdins (1905-1958) in the late 1930s. This project was probably supported by the Jaunpiebalga and Vecpiebalga parishes, public and economic organizations, as well as by people of culture. Until 1999 this collection was thought to be lost in the events of the World War II. The collection was formed in a short period, probably mostly during the Nazi occupation that was noted by flourishing art market. Quite often it was possible to acquire good artworks in exchange for countryside foodstuffs. The collection included works of about 100 Latvian painters, graphic artists and sculptors, from the first professional artists to graduates of the Latvian Academy of Art in the 1930s. The Piebalga Art Museum was never actually opened but part of its collection was exhibited in temporary premises at Jaunpiebalga Peteris School during the war. The lack of interest in fortunes of this collection may be related to the fact that many artists suffered from Soviet persecutions or left for Western Europe or Scandinavia. After Strazdins' death in 1958 his collection was not kept up. In September 1999, looking for the lost collection of the Piebalga Art Museum, there was an inspection of an abandoned farmstead at Zoseni Parish where Strazdins' relatives had lived. Not only empty frames but also 6 paintings, 1 watercolour and 1 etching were found there. Most of these works were in a poor technical condition. Three more works that are possibly connected with the Piebalga Art Museum collection were discovered in the next two years. The first works, restored with the support of the Latvian Cultural Capital Foundation, were exhibited in autumn 2000 to become a kind of surprise for the local art society. These eleven works that form about ten percent of the total number of the Piebalga Art Museum collection allow to place it among the most prominent collections of Latvian art.
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