Published: 10.10.2022 Updated: 25.10.2022
Our Values entrance

9 October 2022 – 22 January 2023

Latvian National Museum of Art
Exhibition halls of the 4th and 5th floors

The exhibition dedicated to the centenary of Latvijas Banka, created in cooperation with the Latvian National Museum of Art, invites us to look upon money not only as an integral part of rational global economy but also as a lasting symbol of our culture, the embodiment of the history and spiritual values of the Latvian people. The legendary five-lats silver coin, popularly known as Milda, a brilliant artistic creation by Rihards Zariņš, is associated by every Latvian with the independence of the state, it has been esteemed and honoured by people, inherited from generation to generation and remains a token of Latvia's visibility.

On 13 March 1991, the decision "On Producing the Banknotes and Coins of the Republic of Latvia" was adopted and the Commission for the Thematic Concept of the Banknotes and Coins was established. Designer and graphic artist Laimonis Šēnbergs took a very active part in its work. Later he became an artistic consultant of Latvijas Banka; he was a professional who steered the creation process of virtually all lats and the first euro collector coins issued by Latvijas Banka. The concept of national banknote design defined two main tasks: the first task is to abandon standardised techniques and search for new original artistic means of expression, the second – the graphic design of the national currency has to be untraditional, concisely and accurately visualising stories significant for Latvia in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The exhibition presents the collector coins of Latvijas Banka, which have been issued regularly since 1996. Latvian artists of all generations and art sectors have participated in their creation by studying, discovering and experimenting to find unusual solutions, using unique materials and state-of-the-art technologies. Each banknote or coin issued by Latvia is created as a miniature piece of art with an encoded universal message both for today and tomorrow. Latvijas Banka's collector coins have gained wide international recognition and prizes in competitions, they are always in the spotlight of the world's numismatics, but most importantly – they present concise stories about our history, culture and values.

Compliance with the high artistic criteria is ensured by the Coin Design Commission of Latvijas Banka, which has been active since 12 November 1993. To produce each coin, a competition is organised, and all submitted ideas by artists are thoroughly reviewed. Along the Bank's senior staff, this Commission also includes well-known Latvian art, culture, history and science experts who take part in its work by proposing themes for coins, coming up with proposals for types of coin development, selecting artists for designing coins, assessing the work carried out by artists and samples of minted coins. Among former members of the Coin Design Commission we can boast the ex-president of the Republic of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, poet Imants Ziedonis, artist and art historian Imants Lancmanis, artist Ilmārs Blumbergs, architect Modris Ģelzis, artist Kristaps Ģelzis and academician Jānis Stradiņš. The contribution made by Maruta Brūkle, the long-term Head of the Coin Division of Latvijas Banka and, of course, artist Laimonis Šēnbergs is priceless, as they were the first to study every detail of coin minting and looked for the best mints that were ready to experiment and bring to life the innovative ideas of Latvian artists. Currently, Jānis Blūms, Head of the Cash Department, also serves as the Head of the Coin Design Commission of Latvijas Banka, and he is assisted by graphic designer Edgars Zvirgzdiņš; Ieva Bela, project manager of Latvijas Banka; artists Sandra Krastiņa, Ivars Drulle, Arthur Analts, Laimonis Šēnbergs; architect and exhibition curator Ieva Zībārte; art historian Ramona Umblija; Vjačeslavs Kaščejevs, Associate Professor of the University of Latvia, Correspondent Member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences; and literature expert Janīna Kursīte.

The idea of the exhibition's concept is to show coins as important symbols of Latvia's image and national values, unique objects of art, values shared by all of us highlighting important events and personalities and creating a long-term connection between the past, present and future. The 80 artistically most outstanding and most original collector coins have been included in eight thematic groups: OUR RIGA (coin cycle dedicated to the 800th anniversary of Rīga), OUR GOLD, OUR LATVIA (coin programme "Latvia. Times and Values), OUR HISTORY, OUR ROOTS, OUR CULTURE, OUR FAIRY TALES AND STORIES and OUR WORLD. The artistic concept of this exhibition was developed by artist Arthur Analts whose "Honey Coin" (2018) is a new step in the development of coin design technologies and which has gained high international appreciation. Its unusual format highlights these collector coins as wonderful miniature pieces of art and focusses on their timeless spiritual value. The exhibition is complemented by custom-designed INSPIRATION CABINETS and the PROCESS STAND that help to understand how much time it takes to create a coin: from the research and artistic pursuits to selecting the ideas and implementing them. Along artistic sketches and plaster models of coins, the visitors are also able to see associative historic objects, documents and artefacts from various memory institutions of Latvia.

Our values
Photo by Vents Āboltiņš

The scope of this exhibition is enhanced even further by a custom-created installation by Arthur Analts called OUR FUTURE that is exhibited in the Cupola Hall of the LNMA, and the impressive spatial object OUR SUN next to the façade of the museum. It is made of 369 drawings of children and youth selected during a special competition and reflects the vision of the future and the main values of our younger generation: family, friends, love, motherland, nature, global ecosystem, peace. The shape of the golden disc represents a coin and the Sun: the symbol of hope, life, perpetual movement, inspiration and spirituality.

Our values
Photo by Vents Āboltiņš

The INTERACTIVE SPACE of the exhibition is a place where all visitors – large and small – can get a pencil, feel the relief on the coins, take home their drawings as a memento, listen to stories of experts and study the drawings selected for the OUR SUN object.

Our Values Interactive space
Photo by Vents Āboltiņš

The exhibition is going to become a visually saturated adventure – its innovative solutions, attractive and educational for visitors of all generations, will evoke lots of positive emotions.

Written by: Inese Baranovska

Cooperation partners:

Latvian National History Museum, National Library of Latvia, National Archives of Latvia, Latvian National Museum of Nature, Latvian War Museum, Latvian Firefighting Museum, Latvian Museum of Architecture, Museum of Literature and Music, Museum of Riga History and Navigation, Riga Porcelain Museum, UAB Lietuvos monetų kalykla (Lithuania)

Curator of the exhibition:

Inese Baranovska, Head of Museum of Decorative Arts and Design/Latvian National Museum of Art

Author of the exhibition's artistic concept:

Arthur Analts, "Variant Studio"

Graphic identity of the exhibition:

Edgars Zvirgzdiņš, graphic designer

Curator of the exhibition's education programme:

Anna Pūtele, curator of exhibitions/Latvian National Museum of Art

Technical realisation of the exhibition:

Designer Office "Yes We Can"