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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Friday, 20.09.2019, 19:43

Latvia: Occupation Museum operated with losses last year, may face bankruptcy in ten years

BC, Riga, 21.08.2019.Print version
Last year, the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia operated with at a loss of EUR 250,000 and in ten years the museum could face bankruptcy if no improvements are made and if the museum's operations are not rationalized, the museum's former director Gunars Nagels says in an interview with Latvijas Avize newspaper.

The museum is not what it used to be 25 years ago, when it was established by a few enthusiasts. At this time, the museum is a medium-sized enterprise with a staff of 60 and annual turnover of at least EUR 1 mln. The museum depends on donors and state support, says Nagels.


Lofty plans are great, but Nagels has seen companies try expand without a rational basis, and go bankrupt as a result. There are figures proving that the museum may face bankruptcy in ten years, but no one is interested, which is irresponsible.


At the same time, Nagels admits that the museum has large reserves at the moment thanks to several large inheritances from Australia, but the amount of regular donations has been low in recent years.


"Taking into consideration all revenues of the museum, including those from our support institutions abroad and the state subsidy, the museum's losses amounted to approximately EUR 250,000 in 2018," says Nagels, adding that the losses were covered with the inheritance money, even though it should have been set aside for a rainy day.


According to Nagels, the amount of losses will be growing and eventually amount to EUR 0.5 million, which will be a serious problem, and to ignore such a problem would be gross irresponsibility.


"We actually had a plan of how the museum should operate in order to live within its means in the future. The board did not accept the plan. We were planning to expand donations, assign a staff member who would work on attracting donations, the plan also dealt with tours and guides' work," explains the former director of the museum. In Nagels' opinion, after the museum moves to the Building for the Future, it should have an entry fee, about EUR 5, because most visitors are foreigners - but this idea, too, has not been supported.


The Occupation Museum Association's Board of Directors Chairman Valters Nollendorfs points out that the board does not agree with the premises upon which Nagels' opinion is based: the museum's operations over the past seven years, since the museum temporarily moved into the former U.S. Embassy's building.


"Yes, the figures are decreasing right now. We only have half the number of visitors we once had [at Riflemen Square]. But once we return to the original site, to the expanded museum building, the number of visitors and revenue will increase again," says Nollendorfs.


Nagels was the director of the Museum of the Occupation from July 1, 2014 until his resignation at the end of this past July. The museum's board of directors is planning to invite candidates to apply for the vacant position on August 21.






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