Rainis with his original lap desk, RTMM 17645
A room dedicated to Rainis at the Museum of Durbe, just after its opening. Autumn 1929. A slogan written shortly after the poet’s death, reading “Rainis lives on” (“Rainis vēl dzīvo” in Latvian). RTMM 139177

Rainis and Aspazija were honorary members of the Teachers’ Association, and they took part in various meetings of the association. Their bond with the association was strengthened by the fact that Rainis served as Minister of Education. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that both poets gladly donated their manuscripts and letters, as well as other material to the activists of the association. The Museum of Literature’s permanent exhibition included a corner dedicated to Rainis. Rainis bequeathed Durbe Manor to the Teachers’ Association. On 28th September, 1929, only sixteen days after Rainis passed away, the Rainis Museum was opened on the premises of the manor. Work on creating the museum had begun earlier that year, and the poet had taken an active part in the preparations.

On 13th May, 1926, Rainis wrote a diary entry about Greste paying him a visit: “P. Kūla [chairperson of the board of the Latvian Teachers’ Association] came together with Greste, who was young, quiet, enthusiastic. They made the case that students must learn about the outer process of creative work – this increases their interest and makes them deeply respectful towards writers…”

With the intention of bringing students closer to Rainis’ genius, Greste took a special interest in a worn-down sheet of veneer, which had previously been the lid of some mailing box or other, but had also served as Rainis’ lap desk and was indispensable to the writer’s creative process. “You cannot imagine the meaning that such a concrete and obvious item has to children. Rainis’s worn-down lap desk serves for them as a mental foot-bridge to the author of Uguns un nakts.” Rainis did not want to part from his beloved and convenient lap desk, although he yielded to Greste after he promised to substitute it with another – one that was smoother, more comfortable, and specially designed for Rainis. The original lap desk became the property of the Teachers’ Museum, then of the Rainis Museum in Durbe, and now it belongs to Rainis and Aspazija’s House in Majori, Jūrmala. The desk that was crafted as a substitute by Greste or one of his pupils is currently held in the MLM’s depository of collections.