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Power Generation Museum

 

Andrejsala is best explored on foot, as this would help you notice the sizeable territory's various historic and industrial artefacts: the early-1900s streetlights in the North End, port facilities, cranes and the decommissioned power station, later known as TEC or 'thermal power plant' and still housing its massive electricity generating equipment, now part of the heritage. Another congruent object of the local landscape, situated right next to the TEC in Andrejostas iela 8, is the Power Generation Museum with its abundant collection of information concerning the history of electricity usage in Latvia. It starts with the very earliest applications of electricity and comprehensively reflects the creation of a nation-wide power grid and of the business of Latvenergo, as it grew to become one of Europe's most nature-friendly and safest utilities.

 

The tradition precursory to the Power Generation Museum was born in June 1995, when a memo of the bosses of Latvenergo mandated an "exploration, evaluation and cataloguing of [..] museum-grade legacy". Thus began the collecting of data, in some ways important to the whole country. Mr Ilgvars Staltmanis, the then advisor to the company's president, began organising annual conferences dedicated to the history of Latvian electric power systems. At nearly every department of Latvenergo there appeared enthusiasts collecting old photographs, documents and objects for historical exhibitions. The movement ended up with a host of small, local museums.

 

However, in the autumn of 2006, the dispersed collections of information and artefacts began to be concentrated in a single location in Ķegums, where a public Power Generation Museum was opened. Currently its collection is stored and the head office and experts are based in Andrejsala. The centralisation has helped with the inventorying and conserving of the collection as well as with the improving of the storage conditions. In Ķegums, which is outside Rīga, the museum's specialists have been working on developing new expositions and reorganisation of the existing sets.

 

An electronic catalogue is in the works, which will make the archives more transparent: this isn't a small museum after all, since there are 45,000 units altogether, ranging from documents, publications, photos and photographic films to audio and video recordings and an amassment of physical objects. In a word, it's the living history of all that is and was electricity-related in Latvia.

 

Do you want to see what an early electricity meter looks like? What about measuring devices made as early as in the 1930s? The Andrejsala-based museum doesn't stop on that, because it has begun assembling a new collection of certain kinds of man-made objects that other museums are probably not interested in at all... Those are vintage home appliances from various periods, the most recent being those used in the 1980s and 90s: the infamously wrist-mangling, slow-operating electric irons, coffee grinders and kettles – have you thrown any of these gems into garbage?! – as well as radio receivers made in the 1930s, or, during the soviet rule after the 2nd World War. There's also the formerly widely produced Rīga-60 washing machine (equipped with a manual wringing device), a bulky and "streamlined" ZiL fridge, somehow reminding of today's design trends, and an Elektronika alarm clock. Another nice and unique highlight is an AEG hairdryer made in the 1930s and formerly owned by a coiffeuse from Viesīte; just three years ago, the dryer was still perfectly operational!        

 

We ought to mention also the museum's assemblage of 12,000 photographic negatives. Since these stills exist only in the form of negatives, it's going to take quite a while to pinpoint all the past events and scenes shot. 2,000 negatives have actually been made on glass plates, and they depict the construction of the Ķegums hydroelectric power plant, which took place from 1933 till 1940. "This material is indeed one of a kind. The negatives make up a pedantically comprehensive photo story of the power plant's construction, executed with an engineering-minded precision," commented Ina Lastovecka, head of the museum.

 

The museum has put together a media library containing 360 VHS (video) and audio tapes. Those have been filmed by an enthusiast, documenting key events in the power generation business, the reconstruction of various utility structures, while there are also copies of relevant TV coverage: the Skatupunkts programme, some news fragments from the period of the restoration of independence, and so forth.

 

The Power Generation Museum is open both to general excursions and to those looking for more detailed advice regarding the history of the electric power industry. The address to look for is 19 Andrejostas Street, Rīga, with two more exhibition locations outside Rīga, in Ķegums and Aizkraukle. Don't forget to book your visit via Latvenergo's website.

 

 

Power Generation Museum: 19 Andrejostas Street, Rīga. Also exhibitions at 7/9 Ķeguma prospekts, Ķegums, and at 2 Enerģētiķu Street, Aizkraukle, Pļaviņas hydropower plant (both are located on the left bank of the river Daugava).

 

Opening hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (weekdays).

 

Contact: Ms Helēna Blumberga, phone +371 67728982 or +371 29150614 (Andrejsala, Rīga); Ms Ginta Zālīte, phone +371 65010355 (Ķegums); Ms Ina Aizupiete (Aizkraukle), phone +371 65110309.

E-mail: muzejs@latvenergo.lv.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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