The museum Riga Art Nouveau Centre is the only museum in the Baltic States dedicated to the Art Nouveau heritage.
The building of the museum at Alberta iela 12 was built in 1903 as a private house of the famous Latvian architect Konstantīns Pēkšēns who designed it together with Eižens Laube. The façade of the monumental building boasts ornamental reliefs with stylised motifs of plants and animals occurring in Latvia. They have also been used in the interior design. The impressive spiral staircase is one of the most magnificent masterpieces not only in Riga, but also in Europe.
The museum features an authentic interior of an Art Nouveau apartment and a modern digital exposition. The interior has fully captured the essence of Art Nouveau starting with the layout of rooms, original wall paintings and plafonds and ending with furnishings. The interior displays furniture, tableware, artworks, clocks, clothing, embroidery and other items used in Riga.
A modern and interactive digital exposition tells about the magnificent Art Nouveau architecture, design and art of Riga and about everyday life of Rigans in the early 20th century. Here everyone can furnish their Art Nouveau house, watch a film or have their picture taken in the interior of a specially designed photo studio.
Welcome to the Art Nouveau apartment!
A sitting room is the central presentation space of an apartment where hosts receive guests, drink tea, talk about opera shows and politics, discuss the latest fashion in Paris and what is new in Riga. Activities in the sitting room include listening to music, singing and sometimes even dancing... The authentic interior of 1903 has been renovated in the room. Walls are painted the same blue as they were before. The finish of the sitting room features floral elements inspired by the Latvian nature. An ornamental frieze with daisy motifs is located on the upper part of the walls. The most splendid finish is that of the ceiling - a stucco decor with elements of daisy blossoms as well as a band of ornamental painting. An interesting accent of the room is the bay window. It is separated from the room with a wooden decor in the character of Art Nouveau. The original parquet flooring, tiles, doors, windows and heating pipes have been preserved. Authentic Art Nouveau items, originally used in Riga, have been placed in the room.
The fireplace room is situated in the representative part of the apartment. It is a place where hosts and guests gather around the fire. Sipping wine, having a chat... The authentic interior of 1903 has been renovated in the room. Walls are painted the original green. The finish of the fireplace room features floral elements inspired by the diversity of trees in Riga. An ornamental frieze with chestnut leaf motifs is located on the upper part of the walls. The ceiling is adorned with a stucco decor with a rhombus-shaped rosette in the centre and a surrounding ornamental band as well as decorative painting with chestnut leaf motifs. The original parquet flooring, doors, windows and heating pipes have been preserved. Authentic Art Nouveau items, originally used in Riga, have been placed in the fireplace room.
The dining room
The most luxurious room in this apartment, which was a place for a dinner with friends and everyday meals with family. Dining room is a room where its high manners, traditions and virtue were valued most. Descendents of the families remember it as a place with a canonic menu and where strong discipline was required. This is the only room in the apartment which has two gorgeous still life paintings on the ceiling as well as stained glass windows. Decorative paintings, wooden (spruce) panels on the walls and pinewood beams on the ceiling have been renovated.
The bedroom was in the private section of the apartment. It was here where the owners of the flat enjoyed their peace after a day of tensions and hard work. The 1903 interior of the room has been restored. The reddish brown tone of the walls has been reapplied. The flat of the wall is divided into two sections – one darker, one lighter. The lighter tone is covered with horizontal lines upon which there are rhythmically arranged, stylised and stencilled images of wreaths of roses, each supplemented with drapery. The rose was one of the most popular elements in Art Nouveau décor in the interior design of the period in Rīga. Roses and wreaths of roses are often sung about in Latvian folk songs, and they have often been used in the art and interior designs of artists. The doors, windows and radiators are all original.
The rhythm of life hardly ever stopped in kitchens in the early 20th century, except perhaps at night. The homemaker or maid spent all day ensuring that the residents of the flat felt well. Innovations during the era included refrigerators, modern stoves, and cast iron sinks with water faucets. The 1903 interior of the kitchen has been restored. Faux tiles are painted onto the walls. An authentic tile wall made of white and blue tiles has survived alongside the stove. The wooden shelf, door and pine floor are all originals. Fragments of the ornamental painting above the tiles showing young girls shepherding geese (first half of the 20th century), survive. The ornamental band in the niche has been preserved since a renovation of the kitchen which was done around 1910.
The maid’s room
Having a maid was a key element in the lives of people from the civil society. Her room was usually at the kitchen – small and poorly lit. The room usually had nothing more than the basics – a bed, a wardrobe, a sewing machine. The maid often served as a security guard too, because the kitchen was always at the back stairs. She also cleaned house and mended clothes.The interior of the room has been restored. The walls are brown, and a fragment of the decorative ornament which was installed somewhat later has been restored.
A bathroom became a central element of modern flats in the early 20th century. People were concerned about hygiene, and an enamelled cast iron bathtub was a symbol of freshness and cleanliness. The interior in the bathroom is authentic and dates back to the early 20th century. The faux tiles which were painted on to the wall have been restored. The tiles on the floor come from the “Villeroy & Bosch” company.
Flush toilets appeared in Western Europe in the late 19th century, and at the very beginning of the 20th century, the “Jaksch & Co”. company in Rīga was advertising a bathroom set with a toilet and a bidet. A proper flush toilet became an absolute necessity in modern homes.