Best Museums in Riga

Latvia has a strong and lengthy history, and wonderful museums which chronicle it beautifully. Many are simply places which really must be visited. Some are entertaining. Some are boring. Read all about the popular and interesting museums here.

Latvian Railway Museum

2/4 Uzvaras bulv. (Pardaugava)
Tel. 583 28 49, 583 26 28
10.00 – 17.00. Closed Sun, Mon, Tue

More than a thousand items, documents and photographs are in the museum’s collection. Communications and signalling equipment, tools and instruments of railroad repairmen, uniforms and distinguishing badges, station interior objects, tickets and delivery notes are all on display. Station buildings and railway bridges built during the time of the First Republic of Latvia, the history of the railway evolution in Riga city, as well as Latvian Railway personnel are shown in the exhibited documents and photographs.

Aviation Museum

Riga Airport , right of the terminal
Tel. 686 27 07
10.00 – 17.00
Closed Sat, Sun

One of the richest collections in Eastern Europe, the museum has war, passenger, sports and training planes and helicopters. You can see almost all the models of the famous Soviet MIGs, among them the world’s fastest war plane MIG25.

Fire-fighting Museum of Latvia

5 Hanzas iela ( Riga center)
Tel. 733 13 34
11.00 – 17.00
Closed Mon, Tue

The museum is set upon the premises of a former fire station, built in 1912 and designed in Art Nouveau style. The collections focus on the history of fire-fighting in Latvia from the second half of the 19th century until the present time. Fire-fighting equipment, flags, uniforms, photographs and documents are on display.

State Museum of Art (Valsts Makslas muzejs)

10a Kr. Valdemara iela ( Riga Centre)
Tel. 732 44 61
11.00 – 17.00
Closed Tue
Until 1.10 open on Thr 11.00 – 19.00
www.vmm.lv

The museum has a rich collection, about 14 000 exhibits among which are works of famous Latvian and Russian painters such as V. Purvitis, Janis Rozentals, Nikolai Rerih and I. Aivazovsky.

Museum of Nature

13 Vagnera iela (Old Riga)
Tel. 721 30 08
Fax 721 68 28
10.00 – 16.00
Closed Sun, Mon, Tue

This museum is located in a beautiful 18th century dwelling house in the middle of the Old Town. The displays trace the development of pharmacy in Latvia until 1940. Documents from the 17th to 19th centuries, old books, various drugs, production tools, samples of medecine manufactures by Latvian pharmaceutical firms, decorative labware and prescriptions from a fascinating collection. The museum also houses a drugstore with interior in 19th century style.

Motor Museum (Rigas Motormuzejs)

6 Eizensteina iela (Mezhciems)
Tel. 6709 71 70
10.00 – 18.00
Mon 10.00 – 15.00

Fans of unique automobiles shouldn`t miss the great opportunity to see the cars once owned by Stalin, Brezhnev and the Russian writer Maxim Gorky. The museum has a Latvian motor sport department with antique motorbikes and stories about them.

Ethnographic Open-Air Museum (Etnografiskais Brivdabas muzejs)

440 Brivibas iela
Tel. 6799 45 10
Fax 799 41 78
10.00 – 17.00

Authentic houses, farmsteads, windmills, wooden churches, and fishermen`s villages that represent different regions of Latvia of 16-19 centuries. Situated in a vast pine forest by the lake Jugla, it occupies an area of about a 100 hectares. On weekends you can watch traditional craftsmen at work. The museum even has its own bee-farm and you can taste honey which is served with country bread and a special drink brewed from honey. An unforgettable experience that you should not miss! Count on spending an entire day here.

Riga Porcelain Museum

9/11 Kaleju iela (Old Riga)
Tel. 750 37 69, 750 36 83
11.00 – 18.00
Closed Mon

A vast collection of Riga porcelain, accompanied by an informative documentary film. Also displays porcelain vases from the Soviet times with images of Lenin and Stalin amongst others.

Occupation Museum of Latvia (Okupacijas muzejs)

18 Grecinieku iela (Old Riga)
Tel. 6721 29 51, 6722 26 36
11.00 – 17.00
www.occupationmuseum.lv

A glimpse into the complex past of Latvia from 1940 to 1991. An objective account of systematic attempts to destroy Latvia and its people by both Soviet and Nazi regimes. The unique artefacts and thematic exhibits on display provide an emotional testimony to the victims of totalitarianism and to the resistance movement. The tour ends with the regaining of Latvia’s independence in 1991 the triumph of the people’s un-relenting desire for freedom.

Museum of Riga ‘s History and Navigation
(Rigas Vestures un Kugniecibas muzejs)

4 Palasta iela (Old Riga)
Tel. 6721 20 51
10.00 – 17.00

The museum shows how Riga turned from a small settlement on the bank of the river Ridzene into a big Hanseatic city. The second display illustrates the history and development of nautical navigation. You can take a closer look at the lifestyle of a typical Riga citizen living during the times of the First Republic and see the historical artefacts that have been excavated in Riga in the last few years.

Museum of Foreign Art (Arzemju Makslas muzejs)

3 Pils laukums (in President Palace)
Tel. 6722 64 67
11.00 – 17.00
Closed Mon,Th

The museum has the biggest collection of foreign artworks in Latvia. Some drawings and paintings date back to the 15th century. One can see works of Dutch artists created in the 17th century, German paintings of the 17th-19th centuries and Belgian art works of the beginning of the 20th century.

Mentzendorff’s House (Mencendorfa Nams)
City-Dwellers’ House-Museum

18 Grecinieku iela (Old Riga)
Tel. 6721 29 51, 6722 26 36
11.00 – 17.00

This house is a 17th-18th century architectural monument in its own right. It was once owned by a rich Riga merchant. You can see the antique furniture, unique frescoes and household items.

History Museum of Latvia (Latvijas Vestures muzejs)

3 Pils laukums (Old Riga)
Tel. 6722 13 57
11.00 – 17.00
Admission free on Wed.
Closed Mon, Tue

Visitors can view the evolution of Latvia and its people from the Stone Age up to nowadays. The exhibits display a variety of themes – the ancient times, the history of medieval Riga castle, the lifestyle of peasants and manors in 18-19th c. One can also see the expressions of art nouveau in urban interior (turn of the 19th – 20th c.), as well as the foundation of the Republic of Latvia in 1918 and the beginning of Soviet times in 1940. The permanent exhibitions depict the history of education in Latvia, money in Latvia through centuries and Sacral art. Order tour in English, German (5Ls) or Russian (1Ls) in advance. Open 11:00 – 17:00. Closed Mon., Tue. Admission: 0.70

Latvian Photography Museum (Latvijas Fotografijas muzejs)

8 Marstalu iela
entrance from Alksnaja iela (Old Riga)
Tel. 722 72 31
Wed, Thr 13.00 – 19.00
Fri, Sat 17.00 – 17.00
Sun 11.00 – 15.00
Closed Mon, Tue
vip.latnet.lv/museums/photo

The collection contains photographs, from those developed by the primitive techniques of the 19th century to modern ones: transparencies, negatives, photographic equipment, documents of archival value, books and magazines. The permanent exhibition illustrates the growth and development of photography in Latvia from 1839 to 1941.

Latvian War Museum
(Kara muzejs)

20 Smilsu iela (Old Riga)
Tel. 722 81 47
10.00 – 18.00
Closed Mon, Tue
www.karamuzejs.lv

The formation of the Latvian Riflemen’s regiments and the ensuing battles of WWI spurred the founding of this museum in 1916. The museum moved into the Powder Tower in 1919, known as the Sand Tower in the 17th century. The 15th century edifice in its own right holds great historical value and connection to warfare, its 2.5m-thick walls are still scarred and studded with old cannonballs. Exhibitions on permanent display include: “Latvian soldiers during WWI”, “Proclamation of the Latvian State and Liberation War” and “The Road Towards the Barricades – 1945 – 1994″.