Beware the lady with a green eyes: twelve years of Herta Hanzen in charge of the Museum of History of Medicine

Rita Grāvere

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


In 1961, four years after the official opening of Pauls Stradiņš Museum of History of Medicine, an official from Latvian SSR Council of Ministers Herta Hansen (1909-1972) was appointed as a museum director and she held the post for the next twelve years. The objective of this study is to explore this era in the museum history. In this study the documents form Pauls Stradins Museum of History of medicine archiveshave been analysed. Periodicals and written memoirs have been used additionally. As described by contemporaries, Hanzen was a typical director of a soviet institution - a dogmatic that took the post till the day she died. She was not bothered by her own ignorance in the field of history of medicine. She started to build up the museum exhibitions as she found fit, but she was intelligent enough to respect Pauls Stradins visions in general. Upon the opening of the museum there were 12300 objects in the storage, 9000 books. In 1961 - already 153 000 exhibits. On the museum five year anniversary there were 40 rooms with 12 exhibitions. The museum copied paintings and sculptures from Hermitage, at the same time getting rid of some “inappropriate” local works (e.g. paintings of Vīka). In Hanzen’s time a valuable materials from People's Republic of China came were aquired as well as the famous transparent men from DDR. One must agree to Jānis Stradinš - Hanzen became the museum director in the most tense period of time shortly before completing the new museum exhibitions. Despite her political views, she somehow respected Pauls Stradiņš legacy. Largely due to her energy and organising skills the museum was opened to visitors in July20, 1961. She promoted the museum in scientific conferences and in popular press. She is the one who started the museum branding.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes
EventRSU Research week 2021: Knowledge for Use in Practice - Rīga, Latvia
Duration: 24 Mar 202126 Mar 2021


ConferenceRSU Research week 2021: Knowledge for Use in Practice
Abbreviated titleRW2021
Internet address

Field of Science*

  • 3.5 Other medical sciences

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


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