The Latvian Museum of War is one of the most comprehensive Latvian history museums in Riga. The museum is located in Old Town, about a 10 minute walk from the school. The exhibits are located in the Powder Tower, where gunpowder was stored in the 17th century. Tickets are free! This grants you access to seven exhibits covering Latvian history of war from the 9th century to the present day. Latvia has a long history of fighting for independence, and the museum showcases this comprehensively. I was also surprised at how in-depth their exhibition on refugees was. I knew about where Latvian refugees settled in the US, but I was unaware of refugee populations in places like South America and Australia. As for timing, just know that the exhibitions are large with lots of historical items and information to take in. It’s best to give yourself more than an hour to visit—or to break it up in a few visits.
When thinking about Latvian history museums, medical history isn’t exactly a topic that comes to mind first. That’s exactly why this museum was so intriguing! The student tickets are 1.50 euros, and a tour ticket is 7 euros for students. At the Museum of the History of Medicine, there are 3 floors of medical instruments, books, and displays covering medical history. The exhibits cover treatment of regular ailments, pharmacies, optometrists, dentists, medical experiments, and space related medicine. Did you know the cosmonauts and astronauts needed to wear suits to so their spines wouldn’t expand too much while in space? I didn’t before I visited. Like the Latvian War Museum, this museum is info heavy, and so make sure to set aside an hour or more. This museum is just as interesting to walk through though.
The Latvian Ethnographic Museum was founded in 1924 and is located about 30 to 45 minutes outside the city. The student tickets are 2 euros, and give you access to the entire park. The park has historic structures from all over Latvia from hundreds of years ago. The museum has everything from churches, to homes, to farms, and windmills. Craftsmen and artisans also make and sell their goods around the grounds. Some of the churches are still working churches, and host sermons and ceremonies like weddings. This museum is expansive and outdoors, so it’s best to go with energy and good weather. If you want to understand life in Latvia from long (and not too long) ago, then this is a captivating place!
One of the benefits of all these museums is that information is given in Latvian, Russian, and English. This offers students of all levels of learning multiple linguistic options, and the opportunity to learn new Russian vocabulary. Certainly there are many more Latvian history museums in Riga, but these are some of the most fascinating and deserving of a visit!
-Lydia, Student, USA