From 18 January until 20 April 2014, at the Arsenāls Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art (1 Torņa Street, Old Riga), viewers will be able to see the exhibition "1914" which is one of the major events of the year of Riga as the European Capital of Culture. The aim of the "1914" project is to correlate visual and artistic evidence about World War I as a point of reference in the historical, social and cultural development of 20th century Europe.
The range of events planned in Riga, as the European Capital of Culture in 2014, provide a unique opportunity to present the city together with the whole of Latvia in the context of common European cultural values. On the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War, the "Freedom Street" (Brīvības iela) theme within the Force Majeure programme envisages a discourse on historical issues. In sharing this experience, analysing how problems developed and examining the psychological aspects, we may re-assess collective memory, one element of which is the identification and neutralisation of painful episodes in our history.
The exhibition "1914" has been created specially for the Arsenāls Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art, a historic building that was originally intended for military needs, namely, as a weapons store (1832). Following repeated changes in the function of the building which accompanied changes in the political regime, in 1988 the old arsenal was adapted to serve as a museum and exhibition hall.
"1914" is a narrative and at the same time an architectonic construction, focusing on three areas of conflict – conflict in the temporal dimension, where a new age irreversibly replaced the earlier system of values and frames of reference; internal human conflict – the capacity for changing one’s life by sacrificing it to war and to the fight for the Fatherland, and even giving up one’s life; and lastly – conflict in geographical space, where a new balance between the great powers and political forces appeared, along with the formative New Europe.