The literary writer, publicist and publisher Garlieb Helwig Merkel (1769–1850) is an iconic figure in Latvia’s cultural history and made an invaluable contribution to Latvian cultural and self-awareness processes.
Merkel’s first literary work – Latvians – is his best-known, becoming a sensation and generating radically opposed evaluations. The influence of his views plays an important role in the abolition of serfdom in Estonia (1816) and Vidzeme (1819). Less known today is Merkel’s successful 42-year career in the German-language press in Germany and Latvia: commentary, journalism, literary and theatre criticism, publishing, all of which makes him one of the most notable journalists in Berlin and Rīga. Merkel was also active in propaganda and devoted ten years (1805–1815) to an ideological programme against Napoleon, as well as to press coverage of 1812 war operations. Merkel is one of the pioneers of the industrialisation era in Latvia. He had a keen interest in the latest advances in equipment and agriculture, pushing for the introduction of new processing technologies and different crops. The exhibition reveals the diversity of Merkel’s literary and social activities as well as his contradiction-filled and complex personality.
Most of the material related to Merkel is held by the Rare Book and Manuscript section in the Academic Library of the University of Latvia.
Exhibition concept and texts: Aija Taimiņa
Content expert: Pauls Daija
Project manager: Kristīne Liniņa
Design concept: Tatjana Raičiņeca, Kristīne Liniņa
Design: Tatjana Raičiņeca
Exhibition installation: Ainārs Egle, Dzintars Volmanis, Jevvgenijs Sisoyevs
Public Relations Manager
National Library of Latvia
Phone: +371 26472501
Gallery name: National Library of Latvia
Address: Mūkusalas iela 3, Riga
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 09:00 - 20:00, Sat-Sun 10:00 - 17:00
Open: 28.11.2019 - 21.06.2020