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On AAL Institute of Art History

AAL Institute of Art History (IAH) is the only institution working on fundamental studies of Latvian and Latvia-related visual art and architecture. IAH was formed in 2002 when art historians at the Art History Department of the University of Latvia Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art joined the Art Academy of Latvia that implements study programmes in art history and theory. Dr. Elita Grosmane was the director of the institute from 2002 to 2012, succeeded by Dr. habil. art. Eduards Kļaviņš since from 2012 to 2022. Since August 31 2022 the director of the institute is Dr. Kristiāna Ābele.

Researchers at IAH study, interpret and popularise the phenomena of early and recent Latvian visual art, using traditional forms of publications (articles in edited books and journals, monographs, dissertations, cultural guidebooks, reports in scientific conferences, public lectures, exhibitions) and possibilities opened up by the latest technologies (the Internet, digital resources). Results of research are used for study programmes at the AAL as well as for collaboration with other institutions of research and education, cultural heritage repositories and protection institutions in Latvia and abroad.

Relevant Directions and Forms of Research

AAL Institute of Art History carries out broad-spectrum research and interpretation of Latvia’s older and later art-historical phenomena in line with up to date standards, producing scientifically grounded conclusions, fostering studies and preservation of cultural values as well as establishing the specificity of Latvia’s art in the European context. In 2013, IAH launched the seven-volume project “Art History of Latvia” in Latvian and English, edited by Eduards Kļaviņš and supported by the State Cultural Capital Foundation. Volumes published up to now deal with the following periods: 9th Millennium BC – 1562 (Vol. 1, 2024), 1780–1890 (Vol. 3, books 1–2, 2019), 1890–1915 (Vol. 4, 2014) and 1915–1940 (Vol. 5, 2016).

Since 2003, IAH publishes the scientific journal Mākslas Vēsture un Teorija (“Art History and Theory”; editor in chief Elita Grosmane, ISSN 1691-0869) that saw issue No. 25 in 2021. The journal aims to present new and important studies of art and architecture in Latvia as well as in the Baltic Sea region to professionals of the field and other interested readers in both Latvia and abroad; it also intends to promote theoretical and methodological developments. Articles are available for the international audience in Central and Eastern European Online Library (CEEOL) and the full-text data base EBSCO Art Source (since 2012). The journal is indexed at the Central European Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities (CEJSH) and Kunstbibliotheken Fachverbund Florenz-München-Rom (Kubikat). Since 2018, the scholarly articles are indexed at SCOPUS.

In 2007, IAH initiated the monographic series of doctoral dissertations in art history defended at AAL; seven publications have been issued so far – on the history of Latvian art theory (Stella Pelše, 2007), Jesuits’ contribution to the art and architecture of Latvia (Kristīne Ogle, 2008), Riga City Architect Johann Daniel Felsko in the 19th century (Daina Lāce, 2012), medieval construction history and architectural sculpture of Riga Dom Cathedral (Agnese Bergholde, 2015), Riga architecture and urban planning in the second half of the 17th century (Anna Ancāne, 2016), painted decorations of ethnographic dowry furniture (Inese Sirica, 2020) and decorative painting in Riga’s interiors in the 16th to 18th centuries (Vija Strupule, 2023).

IAH organizes national and international scientific conferences and gathers their materials in collected articles. Some of these are published in collaboration with the Publishing House Neputns in the series Materiāli Latvijas mākslas vēsturei (“Materials for the art history of Latvia”; 8 volumes, 2000–2012). In 2022 the collection of articles edited by Anna Ancāne, following the international conference “The Migration of Artists and Architects in Central and Northern Europe, 1560–1900”, was published.

IAH also supports cultural education and scientific tourism in the form of both digital and printed guidebooks, cooperates with Latvian and foreign museums in curating exhibitions and participates in international projects of research and popularisation of cultural heritage, such as “Medieval Architecture in Livonia” (, 2020–2022), etc.

Alongside collective projects, individual research initiatives of IAH employees are also significant, resulting in dissertations, monographs and other scholarly output.

The digital image collection and library of IAH are complemented with accumulated visual materials and publications on a regular basis.

© Art Academy of Latvia Institute of Art History 2024.
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