Documentary examines the founding of the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum

Latvian Television (LTV) has prepared another in its series of short historical documentary films, 'The Keys' complete with English-language subtitles, looking at important moments and subjects in Latvian history.

This time the starting point is 1924, and the establishment of the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum on the outskirts of Rīga.

An important statement of cultural identity and intent, the museum's methods of gathering buildings from all over the country and placing them in the capital was not without controversy and over the years it also found itself caught in the crossfire between various regimes and political persuasions. 

The documentary looks at whether the founders of the museum were in fact making a museum in their own image rather than basing it upon a historical approach, and also takes into consideration how profound demographic, economic and political changes impacted the way Latvians saw themselves.

Even in attempting to place cultural distance between themselves and the Baltic Germans who had long been a dominant force, Latvian patriots adopted many German methods and approaches.

Yet to this day the museum remains both a vital cultural point of focus and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.

According to LTV "The Keys" series tells of the most important or "key" events, personalities and turning points in the history of the Latvian state from 1918 to the present. The purpose is to reveal each selected event from an unusual point of view, as if "unlocking the door" to lesser known and therefore particularly intriguing facts. 

"Such an exploratory approach, bypassing the usual stereotypes of presenting history, will allow viewers to perceive what is known to others and to better understand what has happened in the context of today's experience," says LTV.

The show was made by VFS Films, a long-time partner of Latvian Television, and was hosted by Mārtiņš Ķibilds.

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