The museum has a large collection of glasswork reflecting the industrial art of the Art Nouveau period and the ongoing development of the sector. In the 1900s there were several glass factories in Riga, the largest of them were Jacob Beck’s factory and Kerkovius & Co, as well as the Baltic glass factory Riga. A big glass factory was also located in Līvāni (founded in 1887). All of these factories produced glass dishes, containers and luxury items. One of these factories, which along with beer bottles and medical containers also produced glass vases and dishes, was Jacob Beck’s glass factory (founded in 1889) that later became the Iļģuciems glass factory. This factory is believed to have produced the tall vases that were so popular during the Art Nouveau period, as well as the tiny liqueur glasses and enamel painted vases of various shapes. However, there is no scientific proof of this as no factory documents have been preserved in the archives. In the early 20th century Latvia and Riga were part of the Russian Empire, which had a significant impact on manufacturing and trade. In Russia, one of the most significant glass production centres was the Maltsov glass factory operating since the early 18th century. This factory produced a wide range of household glass items as well as decorative pieces. At the turn of the 20th century, the factory began producing the tall glass vases nicknamed “thighbone vases” or “single-flower vases” in Russia. They were made in different colours (malachite, purple, cobalt, etc.) and their base was ground. These vases were excellent examples of Art Nouveau designs and adorned every interior, as they brought colourfulness and exuded sophisticated elegance. The first vases of this design may have been brought to Riga from the Maltsov factory in the 1900s. As they are quite common in Latvia, it can be assumed that very soon they were included in the assortment of Riga’s glass factories. Their production continued also after WWI when they were supplemented with decorative engravings of geometric shapes. The museum holdings contain a relatively large collection of enamel painted glasswork. Some of these paintings are rather naïve and imply that they were made by local craftsmen who were employed by the factories.
Although the collection of glass items is rich, it is only partly attributed. More extensive research could provide new insights about the development of this sector in the early 20th century.