Mentzendorff House, a subunit of the Museum of History and Navigation, with its 17-18th century atmosphere is the only museum of its kind in the Baltics. The exposition is set up in a building of 1695, which up to 1939 was a dwelling-house with a shop and warehouses.
A dwelling-house museum renders the everyday life of wealthy Riga residents in the past. The unique ceiling and wall paintings of the 17th-18th centuries have been matched by respective objects of interior from the History and Navigation Museum, with every room furnished in a different manner. Visitors can have a look around the old shop, a kitchen with the so-called “coat chimney”, a salon, a dance hall, a “poet’s room”, a family chapel, a master’s room, a “girl’s room”, or go down to the cellar or up in the attic, both of which now accommodate exhibition halls.
The museum stores 2000 exhibits which tell the history of the house and the life-stories of its various inmates.
The museum acquired its name from the last owners of the house – the merchant family of Mentzendorffs. In 19th and 20th centuries August Mentzendorff’s shop was still the place to buy the best coffee in Riga. Ties with the Mentzendorff family have been retained and its descendants support museum activities both in spirit and practice. The grandson of A. Mentzendorff, prof. Dietrich Andre Loeber, was nominated for the Museum of History and Navigation Friendship Card due to his substantial assistance.
Already back in the 17th century the house accommodated a glass workshop run by Jürgen Helm. The tradition has been preserved – also nowadays the Mentzendorff House has a contemporary glass studio, the Centre of Glass Art and Studies. The creation of glass artworks can be observed in action. Preliminary booking will provide an opportunity to learn some glass artwork skills.References:
The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.
Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.
Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.
The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.