Iļģuciems Glassware (1886–1960)

One of the pioneers of glass making in Riga was Jakob Beck’s glass factory founded in Ilģuciems in 1886, which in 1927 was renamed Joint Stock Company (hereinafter JSC) “Ilģuciems Glass Factory”, but in 1960 it was included in the company “Rīga Glass Factory”. Even so, it was at the Ilģuciems Glass Factory that the foundations were laid for the industrial production of a diverse and high-quality glass tableware and other glass objects in Latvia. In the mid-1930s, JSC “Iļģuciems Glass Factory” was the first in Latvia to start cooperating with professional artists in the development of high-quality, decorative glass items that would reflect the fashion trends of the time. The experience of the 1930s allowed the factory to produce, besides standard mass production, artistically high-quality items, even during the Soviet era. In the 1950s, the company “Iļģuciems Glass Factory” launched cooperation with glass artists and students of the Art Academy of Latvia, thus promoting the development of glass art in Latvia.

Although 60 years have already gone by without the famous trademark “Ilģuciems Glass Factory”, it has left vivid testimonies in the cultural heritage and in people’s memories. The factory’s glassware is still stored in museum collections, private collections and in the homes of many families. For the first time, the exhibition presents glassware produced in Ilģuciems before 1960 from the rich collection of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, supplemented with rarer factory products from the collections of Raitis Siatkovskis and Vitālijs Moločko, the auction house/gallery “Jēkabs”, as well as individual items from the Bauska Museum and private persons.

The diverse collection of Ilģuciems glass, together with the evidence of historical sources from the National Archives of Latvia and the R. Suta and A. Beļcova Museum, describes the early stages of the industrial production of glass in “J. Beck’s Riga Glass Factory”(1886–1926), provides an insight into the development of glassware design at the “Ilģuciems Glass Factory” (1927–1940), as well as reveals the most characteristic changes in the factory’s operation when Latvia came under the USSR and Nazi German occupation (1940–1960).

“Ilģuciems Glass Factory” is a testimony of how to overcome various social and economic difficulties, create and develop a new industry, design new types of products, promoting one’s own and Latvia’s growth through entrepreneurship, initiative and creativity.

The exhibition will run until August 29, 2021.

The exhibition was created by: Margarita Barzdeviča, Vivita Buivida, Zita Pētersone; Artist: Antra Augustinoviča; Master restorer: Ruta Bērziņa


Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia

Riga City Council Education, Culture, and Sports Department