The Lou­vre Mu­seum’s Niko Melis­sano: “I will be the Am­bas­sador of Riga now’’

The Baltic Times - - MUSEUMS - Michael Mustillo

Over 300 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 25 coun­tries of the world’s lead­ing mu­se­ums and art gal­leries, that in­cluded iconic in­sti­tu­tions as the Lou­vre Mu­seum (Paris), The Andy Warhol Mu­seum (Pitts­burgh), Tate (Lon­don), Van Gogh Mu­seum (Am­s­ter­dam), the Auschwitz-birke­nau State Mu­seum (Poland), and many oth­ers, con­verged in Riga for the in­ter­na­tional mu­seum con­fer­ence "We Are Mu­se­ums 2017".

For three days, in June the Lat­vian Na­tional Art Gallery, and Art Acad­emy of Latvia, be­came the cen­tre of the world’s mu­seum ecosys­tem, where vi­tal con­nec­tions be­tween prac­ti­tion­ers, en­trepreneurs and game chang­ers to as­sist mu­se­ums be­come fu­ture ready was fa­cil­i­tated.

‘‘We Are Mu­se­ums serves as a meet­ing place that cre­ates mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships be­tween mu­se­ums and their en­vi­ron­ment and to con­nect the best prac­ti­tion­ers in the sec­tor,” Diane Drubay, the founder of We Are Mu­se­ums told The Baltic Times.

The event took place in Vil­nius in 2013, and Es­to­nia may stage it in a few years ac­cord­ing to Drubay.

Mu­se­ums were at the cen­tre of dis­cus­sions and de­bates dur­ing the con­fer­ence, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on in­clu­sion, em­pa­thy and so­cial added value, and cov­ered the cur­rent chal­lenges for mu­seum pro­fes­sion­als com­pre­hen­sively, from tech­nol­ogy to at­tract­ing new au­di­ences as mu­se­ums de­velop col­lab­o­ra­tion and be­come re­sources for the world.

Niko Melis­sano, from the Lou­vre Mu­seum in Paris said: ‘‘It was my first time to Riga and it has been an in­spi­ra­tion. I have been left with an im­pres­sion of a dy­namic young city, full of new ideas. It is very beau­ti­ful, very quiet, the parks are very clean. I will be the Am­bas­sador of Riga. It was a very big sur­prise, it’s a beau­ti­ful city, ev­ery­thing is per­fect, it’s a very hu­man town.’’

‘‘The Musée d'or­say in Paris, which is the brother of the Lou­vre Mu­seum, lo­cated in front of the Lou­vre, with only the Seine sep­a­rat­ing us, will be stag­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion Sym­bol­ism in Baltic Art (Le sym­bol­isme dans l’art des pays Baltes) in 2018.’’

The ex­hi­bi­tion Sym­bol­ism in Baltic Art will be one of the most am­bi­tious joint projects for the Baltic Cen­te­nary and among the largest cen­te­nary events to take place abroad. The Lat­vian Na­tional Mu­seum of Art ini­ti­ated the project, which will be car­ried out in co­op­er­a­tion with the na­tional art mu­se­ums in Tallinn, Vil­nius and Kau­nas.

‘‘The Lou­vre is a world­wide mu­seum, the mis­sion is to rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent cul­tures of the world, dif­fer­ent civ­i­liza­tions, and why not, I hope to present more about Baltic col­lec­tions on our so­cial me­dia sites, which may set the plat­form for co­op­er­a­tion on a larger scale be­tween di­rec­tors of the Lou­vre and the Lat­vian Na­tional Art Gallery,’’melis­sano said.

For Milda Ivanauskiene, Di­rec­tor of Vil­nius’ new Mod­ern Art Cen­tre, which is be­ing cur­rently built, stressed the con­fer­ence for her was about au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion at mu­se­ums. The Mod­ern Art Cen­tre was es­tab­lished in 2009 by Dan­guole and Vik­toras Butkus as a public in­sti­tu­tion and a "mu­seum with­out walls".

The cen­tre’s mis­sion is to cre­ate a home for Lithua­nian art, ex­pand the cir­cle of art lovers and con­trib­ute to the growth of our so­ci­ety’s hap­pi­ness in­dex.

‘‘We see the Mod­ern Art Cen­tre as be­ing about cre­at­ing a so­cial place for in­ter­ac­tion. We are fa­cil­i­ta­tors, for our au­di­ences to be in front of art­work, and giv­ing them more con­text, more ideas to think about,’’ Ivanauskiene told The Baltic Times.

‘‘Sev­eral years ago, these con­fer­ences were mind open­ing. You know it’s a kind of con­fir­ma­tion that we are in the right di­rec­tion.’’

In re­gards to de­vel­op­ments of the Mod­ern Art Cen­tre, the Li­etuva Cin­ema, once one of the largest movie the­atres in the former USSR, has been de­mol­ished and prepara­tory build­ing work for the Mod­ern Art Cen­tre has be­gun, and where the work of nearly 200 artists will have a per­ma­nent home in a spiffy new build­ing de­signed by the renowned ar­chi­tect Daniel Libe­skind.

‘’The walls of the mu­seum are be­ing built, and we will have a stand­ing build­ing struc­ture in Oc­to­ber of this year, so the walls and the roof will be ready. This will en­able all the en­gi­neer­ing work to com­mence dur­ing the win­ter. Be­cause we have cold win­ters in Vil­nius, in Oc­to­ber, we need to have heat­ing in or­der for the ex­te­rior work to start in the spring,’’ Ivanauskiene said.

‘‘If ev­ery­thing goes well, we are think­ing about open­ing in Septem­ber 2018.’’

Built in the late 1950s, the Li­etuva Cin­ema struc­ture on Pylimo in Vil­nius was one of the main cul­tural cen­tres in the cap­i­tal.

The Mod­ern Art Cen­tre will keep a bit of the his­tory in that it will house a 200 seat movie the­atre.

The We Are Mu­se­ums com­mu­nity, as its Di­rec­tor Claire Sol­ery noted to The Baltic Times, are re­ally af­ter get­ting more in­spi­ra­tion: ‘’they are a lit­tle sick of the same mu­se­ums, and the same rules, and same strat­egy and they are look­ing for more fresh ideas, and more hu­man also and more in­clu­sive ideas, and that’s some­thing you find in the east, and the Baltic States re­gion, and you don’t find so much in the west.’’

‘’West­ern mu­se­ums had come to this con­fer­ence in Riga to get in­spired by some­thing that they are not used to, and the fact that’s it’s al­ways in an­other city that they have no idea about is re­ally im­por­tant for them, as it opens their eyes to some­thing new and some­thing fresh, mod­ern and young, and they need that. Lat­vian peo­ple are so young, the way they think, their men­tal­ity; their mind­set is so young and dy­namic. It’s mod­ern.’’

‘‘In the fu­ture, the Baltic States will be one of the places that peo­ple will look at, so what we want to do is ba­si­cally be an eye for an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence to look at the Baltic States,’’ said Sol­ery.

300 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 25 coun­tries of the world’s lead­ing iconic mu­se­ums and art gal­leries con­verged in Riga for the in­ter­na­tional mu­seum con­fer­ence "we Are Mu­se­ums 2017".

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