Riga's Most Fascinating Museums

Ieva Matiejunaite

Riga, the colorful capital of Latvia, offers all sorts of interesting activities, both indoors and out. Take a look at the top five museums you must see when in this burgeoning city.

Dining room window – Art Nouveau Museum

Art Nouveau Museum

This stunningly beautiful museum is a true gem for all art and design enthusiasts. The museum is actually an apartment, richly decorated in Art Nouveau styles, from its furniture to the paintings to the cutlery and other bits and bobs. It even includes live human exhibits who walk around or sip tea from little porcelain cups, dressed in clothes that were typical of the Art Nouveau and Jugendstill eras. The apartment once belonged to an architect and his family, who lived there in the first decades of the 1900s. One of the most impressive exhibits in the museum is a gorgeous spiral staircase that leads to the artist’s garret on the top floor.

Art Nouveau Museum, Alberta iela 12, Riga, Latvia, +371 67 181 464

Display Recreating Barracks Conditions for Latvian Deportees to Soviet Prison Camps – Museum of Latvia’s Occupation

1. Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

Building, Memorial, Museum

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

This museum is a great place to visit for all those interested in Latvian and European history, especially the period during and following WWII, when the Iron Curtain closed in on most Eastern European countries. It highlights the 50 and more years that Latvia was under the Soviet yoke, using a lot of interactive and visual aides, along with personal anecdotes, to make the information more accessible and memorable. Make sure you check the section on the Berlin Wall, which is also brilliantly put together. The museum is free to enter but visitors can leave a donation if they like.

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Raina bulvaris 7, Riga, Latvia, +371 67 212 715

hat

One piece at the World of Hat Museum | Courtesy of the World of Hat Museum

2. World of Hat Museum

Museum

This museum with a slightly unusual subject was founded by Dr. Kirill Babaev who decided to share his love for (and large collection of) hats with the public. The exhibits include hats from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, all of which the founder, a passionate traveler, has picked up during his wanders around the globe and gathered under one roof. The visitors also get to try on and take pictures wearing some of the hats. The museum provides guides who are very friendly, fun and informative.

Sun Museum

Riga’s Sun Museum is quite odd and quirky but that also makes it a really fun place to visit and a good travel memory, too. The name is pretty self-explanatory: the museum provides detailed information about the sun and astronomy in general, with various interactive activities to boot, including painting your own little sun. Though the museum is quite small, it has four different sections: an interactive painting area, an astronomical information room, a section telling visitors about the culture of the sun and its worship and a final section displaying artwork depicting the sun. In short, this one is a lot of fun, especially for families with small kids.

Sun Museum, Valnu iela 30, Riga, Latvia, +371 67 225 587

Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum

3. Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum

Museum

This open-air museum is perfect for a day out with family or friends as it includes a lot of walking, hiking and various forms of entertainment for both adults and children. The museum displays the different regions of Latvia and the diversity of their folklore and traditions, and very realistic reconstructions of the households and daily lives of the people in the rural areas of Latvia centuries ago. There are also local vendors who sell goods like bread, freshly baked according to the old traditions.

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