Amber Inspires Creativity – Vita Timermane-Moora
Vita Timermane-Moora believes that this thematic line will be mostly remembered for exhibitions about amber: “Amber – the Precious Stone of the Baltic Sea” at the National History Museum of Latvia, “Amber in Contemporary Art Jewellery” at the gallery “Putti”, “Amber: Myths and Science” at the Museum for History of Medicine, and the exhibition “The Amber of Tutankhamun” that is still on show at the Art Museum Riga Bourse. She explains that the museums were involved in the thematic line through a competition of projects. “At the beginning, the projects were rather similar to each other. We came together, set up an “amber group” that included expeditions, books, and exhibitions, and once I had seen all the applications, I suggested that each museum keep to what they know best to create the “Amber Road” in Riga instead of each organising an all-embracing, generalised exhibition about amber. Of course, information they provide about amber may overlap, but each museum must also present specific information on amber. Yet I would certainly like to emphasise: all the museums that participated in the thematic line with their exhibitions were very forthcoming!” Vita is convinced that this particular aspect – diversity of information – is what distinguishes these exhibitions about amber from other such exhibitions elsewhere in the world.
“All the exhibitions I have seen in museums around the world, including temporary exhibitions, dealt with amber in general: the formation of amber, amber inclusions, etc., whereas we were reaching much deeper.”
We ask Vita if there was anything she had not expected and whether she had learned something completely new about amber, and she reveals that she had been reading very much about amber during the first two years while preparing for the thematic line, and even acquired a voluminous collection of books about amber. “By now I have read very much, talked to a lot of people, doing research, and – yes, I have definitely learned very much. For example, that 80 percent of amber found in the world comes from the Baltic Sea, and that our amber is valued the highest. It was the first thing that gave me the confidence to go talk to people, tell them about the project and invite them to participate.”
Did the exhibitions show and prove to the world that amber is the precious stone of the Baltics and Latvia, which is what we consider it to be? “I would rather speak not just about amber in itself, as there are two aspects to it – amber as a material that we can see, touch and study, and amber as a symbol of something very valuable, which we may be not fully aware of and need to show to more people. There are excellent examples, I believe – the “Amber Songs” programme of the choir “Kamēr…”, the “Riga Jazz Stage”, or the “Amber Avant-Garde” part of the “Habitus Baltija” fashion design competition. Amber can be the reason for any creative activity,” says Vita Timermane-Moora. “As for the precious stone of the Baltics… Originally I also wanted, and was planning, to change Latvians’ attitude to amber. And I hope very much that some things have already changed, that people have looked into their drawers to see what amber items they had at home.” Vita goes on to emphasise that amber must not be frittered away, which is what is still happening far too often. “I think and I hope that seeing so many kind and creative persons among us has bolstered our self-esteem.” It is possible that these multiple stories about amber have also generated international publicity, but Vita adds: “If we are confident about ourselves, the others will simply believe what we say to be true.”
We ask the curator of “Amber Vein” to name the best exhibitions about amber, and she replies:
“Every time some of the exhibitions opened, I was thinking, this must be the best one, and now I believe that each exhibition was the best in its own right.
Of course, now we can say that some things should have been done differently, and some exhibitions might have been larger, for example, the one at the National History Museum. But we have to take into consideration that “Amber through the Ages” has become part of the museum’s permanent exhibition, it is not just an exhibition about amber. The overall concept was unique! Likewise, nowhere else in the world will you see tapestry made of amber thread, that also tells about the origins of amber. Furthermore, we see that 40 million years later, amber is still encouraging creativity and innovation.”
This certainly applies to the exhibition at the Museum for History of Medicine, the organisers of which found ancient texts about amber in the museum’s collection, and will hopefully have them translated, says Vita Timermane-Moora. “Or take the collaboration between the History of Medicine Museum and Voldemārs Johansons! Or the National History Museum, which organises classes for children and where an artefact can be viewed up close with the help of 3D technology. That was a remarkable innovation for a Latvian museum!” And when we mention exhibition “The Epoch of Amber” at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, Vita emphasises that this exhibition offered a wonderful opportunity to look into the meaning of amber in a Latvian’s life.
“We often speak of the Amber Sea, and it was part of the propaganda during the Soviet rule. I believe that this exhibition enabled us to take a look at ourselves, it was a kind of a mirror. And in amber lies the proof that the territory of Latvia was part of these global routes already 4,000 years ago!”
Now, at the end of the year, Vita Timermane-Moora is looking back at what has been achieved, and says that she is very proud of the people who did all this. “We were talking about and discussing a lot of things, and I was urging the organisers of the projects in the thematic line to be creative and innovative. And now I can say that I am very happy at the job they have done, and hope that they feel happy too. And this gives me the greatest feeling of satisfaction!”