Riga Museums are great when looking for things to do in Riga on those rainy days!
One thing to remember with Riga Museums, is that that many are closed on Mondays, but do not despair – you could always join one of our tours such as the Riga Art Nouveau Tour to pass the time, Riga, after all, is a living museum! Below is the list of our favourite museums in Riga.
Latvian National Museum of Art
Latvian National Museum of Art is recently renovated and open for visitors. Latvian National Museum of Art is one of the most beautiful architectural monuments in Riga as well as being a fine art museum.
The Art museum consists of permanent display “Latvian Art 19th – 20th Century” which will include time period from 1945-2000, Soviet years and 90’s art. And there are two new temporary exhibition halls Great Exhibition Hall in the New Block and exhibition hall in Historic building, 4th Floor. Latvian National Museum of Art is a great way to spend all day gazing at magnificent works and walk around beautiful 1900’s styled halls.It is by far one of the greatest art museums in Europe and one of our favorite museums in Riga.
Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation
The exhibitions of one of the oldest museums in Europe reflect the history of Riga from ancient times to this very day. Starting from the very first inhabitants and their tools, arms, guns, armour suits, coins and countless other subjects. Swedish, German, Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, Jewish and Estonian. and of course the most important part of Riga history – navigation.
Riga has always been the center for trading and shipping. In the museum of the history of Riga, you have the possibility to see the might and the power of this city, these are two really great Museums in Riga for you to explore.
Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum
While visiting Riga, you must take the opportunity to see the oldest European Open Air Museum, which surrounds more than 100 hectares! The museum is an island of Latvian folk art, where the ancient way of life is carefully recreated and preserved for future generations. More than ninety authentic houses, farmsteads, windmills, wooden churches, fishermen’s villages and other historic structures have been brought here from different regions of Latvia.
And if you want to see real craftsmen working, there are 18 of them in the museum – weavers, blacksmiths, potters and others. Feasts, celebrations, workshops all the year in the most organic museum in Riga, Latvia and maybe in the whole world. See here our blog post about the museum
Latvian War Museum
Latvia has always been in the middle of most of the wars of Europe, that’s why Latvian War Museum is one of the most essential and important museums in Riga. Located in the only tower left from 25 fortification structures from Swedish times, that was used for storing gun powder, The museum makes it’s own mood. A rich collection of the museum includes weapons, uniforms, documents, photographs, newspapers, military maps, leaflets, orders and awards, personal effects and more and more. And the most interesting exhibits – from both of the World Wars.
Riga motor museum
You can’t pass by this unique museum and miss it, the facade of which looks like an unusual automobile radiator. This was the only museum of cars on the territory of the former USSR was opened in 1989. In the two vast exhibition halls of the Riga Motor Museum, there are more than 100 motor vehicles including cars, motorcycles and bicycles exhibited. Recently opened after major reconstruction and has modern exhibition space.
The collection of the museum includes motorcycles from the early 20th century, military and sports vehicles, cars built in Latvia, the best classic limousines, cars from the garages of the Kremlin (among them Molotov’s car and Brezhnev’s limousine) and sports motorcycles. There are also vehicles from the museums of Germany and private collections. The museum is included in the list of the best technical museums in the world.
Latvian Museum of Photography
Do you know, that the most popular spy camera “Minox” was invented and produced in Riga first. In the Latvian Museum of Photography you can see not only this famous device and pictures from it, but also a wide exposition of photography in Riga and Latvia, starting from 1839.
More than 10,000 transparencies, negatives, photographic equipment, documents and books. A camera was maybe the most independent way how to express yourself during the Soviet era. Photographers had the possibility to make controversial shots and secretly develop them at home. Political, historical and cultural events in the history of Latvia, everyday life of common people, towns and villages – everything is illuminated in this Riga museum.
Museum of Anatomy
The Museum of Anatomy was founded on 1920 as a study institute for Latvian University. Since 1987, the instance is a museum of the state.
The mission of the museum is to collect, preserve and popularise basic sectors of medicine, anatomy, historical statements and intellectual legacies, Research the evolution of anthropology in Latvia and Baltic in general, adapt in present anthropological studies with historical valuation and contrasts.
No doubt – The Museum of Occupation is “must see” museum in Riga. Placed in a concrete and metal coated “box”, that was a museum of Latvian Red Riflemen. That makes a powerful background for this tragedy of Latvian nation, that endured fifty years.
Latvia was occupied three times – by the USSR in 1940, then by Nazi Germany in 1941, and then again by the USSR in 1944. Videos, expositions, photos, examples, flags, posters, documents, exhibits etc. It all shows what happened in Latvia from 1940 to 1991, remembers about crimes been done and about the victims, that “perished, were persecuted, forcefully deported or fled the terror of the occupation regimes”
Riga Aviation museum
This aviation museum is unique in the Baltic countries and one of the largest in Europe. Its collection of Soviet aircraft is also the greatest in Post Soviet countries. Riga Aviation museum is located near Riga International Airport, of course. That’s why it gives an extra feeling like you are a VIP person of USSR being visiting an operating airport.
The National History Museum of Latvia
The National History Museum of Latvia is the largest repository of Latvian material culture. It was founded in 1869 as the museum of the Riga Latvian Society.
The mission of the National History Museum of Latvia in Riga is to preserve collect, research and popularise spiritual and material culture from Latvia and the world from ancient times until today, which has ethnographic, archaeological, numismatic, historical or artistic significance, in the interests of the Latvian nation and its people.
History of the Jews in Latvia
The History of the Jews in Latvia museum documents the history of the Jewish people living throughout Riga and the Latvian territory and is a great source of information for those of you keen to find out more about the Jewish story from the region. There is a Jewish Community Centre on the ground floor in the same Building as the museum.
The world of hat museum
A single hat bought in 2002 started what would later transform into Riga’s and, according to the staff, World’s only museum dedicated to different ethnic hats. With over 400 items in it’s collection this museum takes you all around the Globe showcasing various different head gear in five different rooms, all acquired by travelling and serves as a proof that hoarding can also lead to something unique and amazing. Hat museum is a great place to learn about different cultures and their way of covering heads for whatever reason they might have – the weather, religion and others.
Art Museum Riga Bourse
Located in a marvellous mid 19th century Venetian Renaissance style building on Doma Square, Rigas Birža(Riga Bourse) used to be Riga’s main stock exchange. Makes perfect sense as Venetian Republic used to a major trading and economic power for over a millennia. The Art museum has been here since 2011, after a complete renovation was carried out and it has gained a reputation as one of the best of it’s kind here in Latvia.
It’s permanent expositions consist of Painting, Western and Oriental galleries, showing differences and similarities between the East and the West. Temporary exhibitions usually are on for up to 2 months and in past we’ve had Ancient Egypt, Latvian 19th century paintings, contemporary Austrian art and more. Museum can be explored by yourself or on a guided tour in English, Russian, Latvian and Spanish, they also have a kids workshop with colouring pages, different lessons for schoolchildren(fun for grown-ups too) and a restaurant for those hungry for more. If you have limited to just 3 museums in Riga, this should be one of them.
Now in Riga; the only fashion museum in the Baltics! Located in Riga’s old town, close to the most famous sights; the House of the Blackheads and St. Peters Church. The museum is a collaboration with the ‘Alexandre Vassiliev Foundation’; its namesake, the famous fashion historian and collector Alexandre Vassiliev owns more than 55,000 items which form the third largest private collection of couture in the world. The museum focuses on temporary exhibitions that change every 6 months. The museum building used to be a dance school, which is reflected in the museum cafe decorated in the style of 1920’s and 1930’s with paintings, photographs and items from the dance school days.
Latvian Railway museum
Train – once the most popular mode of public transport here in Latvia, today has given it’s position to buses and now the old locomotives can be seen in the Railway Museum. Here you can learn that Latvian train history started in 1860 during the Imperial Russian period with first line being part of the St. Petersburg – Warsaw route, that at one point there were 5 different standards of train track width and other weird facts. Museum is located just behind the National Library of Latvia and not only showcases old trains, but also has activities like a ride with a handcar and picnic among trains.
Latvian Architecture Museum
Here you can learn about the men and women behind Riga’s architecture, museum showcases architects and real estate developers’ biographies, their sketches of different works, old maps and city plans and more. See how Riga developed from a small medieval fortress into a modern industrial centre where the different ethnic groups would try to leave their mark on the city, very much with the help of architecture.
Art Nouveau Museum
No other architecture has flourished more in Riga than Art Nouveau. This revolutionary style literally took over the city during its Golden Age in 1900s, when around 40% of the new city centre was constructed in Art Nouveau. Located on one of the most prestigious streets in a 1903 masterpiece building, a collaboration by Konstantīns Pēkšēns and his student Eižens Laube, Art Nouveau museum lets you learn about the styles influence on everyday life, how it changed not only the face of city, but also the way people dressed and decorated their apartments.