Prior to the opening of the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre on 24 April 2013, a long journey had been made to bring to fruition the idea born in the distant 2002 and create a unique tribute to the Daugavpils-born world-renowned artist Mark Rothko – a place that offers an opportunity to see Rothko’s originals worth millions of dollars. Before that, the fact that the world-renowned 20th-century American artist Mark Rothko (Marcus Rothkowitz) was born in the Russian Empire town of Dvinsk (present-day Daugavpils in the Republic of Latvia) was little discussed in international circles.
Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre is located in the historical artillery arsenal building of Daugavpils Fortress, originally built in 1833. Reconstruction of the arsenal as suitable location for the Rothko Centre took the joint effort of three different projects, which were co-funded by the European Union. The projects were implemented by Daugavpils City Council in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the Rothko family and supporters from all across the globe. In total, creation costs for Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre amounted to nearly six and a half million euros. Most of the money came from European Regional Development Fund and the Latvia-Lithuania cross-border cooperation programme, but the project would have been impossible without co-funding from Daugavpils City Council and special purpose grants from the state budget.
Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre was conceived with a view to promoting cultural tourism to and within Latvia. Key among the centre’s objectives is shaping the international image of Latvia and Daugavpils and contributing to its cultural competitiveness, facilitating creation of exceptional cultural products and development of culture as a public service. The centre works towards integrating the cultural processes of Daugavpils into European and global trends and offering locals as well as domestic and international tourists access to high-quality expressions of professional art.
The project idea for Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre dates back to 2002. In 2003, a major international programme of events was held in Daugavpils to celebrate artist Mark Rothko’s centenary. The Rothko Reproductions Hall was created at Daugavpils Local History and Art Museum and a memorial construction “Tribute to Rothko” by artist Romualds Gibovskis was erected in a picturesque site on the bank of the River Daugava.
In 2003, co-operation was established with the children of the world-renowned artist, Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko. They not only confirmed their willingness to loan out original works by the artist, but also actively participated in the project to create Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre as well as became co-founders of the non-profit association “Mark Rothko Art Centre”.
In 2005, the first international plein air “Mark Rothko” was organised and efforts began to create a collection for the future Rothko Centre.
In 2007, a general concept was developed for the creation of Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre and approval was received regarding a termless loan of Rothko’s originals. In 2008, the Culture Department of Daugavpils City Council established a project implementation unit for Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre, and local government commissioned a technical project for the centre.
In 2009, a catalogue book “Rothko in Daugavpils” was published.
In 2010, performance strategy for Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre for the period of 2013-2017 was developed and approved.
In May 2011, renovation works began at the future premises of Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art They were performed by general contractor “Ditton Būve” Ltd. and “Gādība” Ltd. The artillery arsenal building was put into operation at the end of 2012, and on 24 April 2013, Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre opened its doors to visitors.