Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation (Riga)

Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation


Palasta iela 4


Open: 11am- 5pm Wed- Sun


Description of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation

Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation

Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation is devoted to history of naval trade vessels. It is a museum with exhibits on the History of the city of Riga from its foundation in 1201. Located in the old town together with the whole of the Cathedral of Riga, the museum was created from the middle of the century XVIII. The beginnings of the museum originated with the private collection of physician Nikolaus von Himsel, who, after the death of the doctor, his mother Caterina von Himsel, in accordance with the wishes of her son, gave to the city of Riga in 1773. On February 22 the city council created the museum, which he described as Himsel. In 1964 the museum obtained its current name as "Museum of History and Navigation of Riga".


History of the Museum

The formation of the museum dates back to the 18th century - its rich and diverse funds are based on a collection of natural science, art and historical objects of the Riga doctor Nikolaus von Himsel. After the doctor's death, his mother, Katrina von Himsel, fulfilling her son's will, donated the collection to Riga. On February 22, 1773, the Riga magistrate decided to create a museum, naming it after Himsel. The museum was located in the premises of the so-called Anatomical Theater (the building has not been preserved). In 1791, the museum was transferred to the eastern wing of the Dome Ensemble, which was specially rebuilt for the needs of the city library and museum. This is evidenced by the image of an astrolabe and the inscription "MUZEUM" on the pediment of this building. In 1816, a special Cabinet of Arts was opened in the museum, and in 1881, when the numismatic collections of the city and the Himsel Museum were combined, the Coin Cabinet was created.

The history of the museum is closely connected with the activities of the Society for the Study of the History and Antiquities of the Baltic Provinces of Russia, the Riga Society of Nature Researchers, the Literary and Practical Union of Citizens and the Riga Society of Practitioners of Riga. The collections of these societies were exhibited in 1858 in the so-called Riga Museum. In the 60s of the 19th century, the natural-scientific and archaeological collection of the Himsel Museum was deposited with the Riga Museum, and part of the collections was transferred to the newly created City Art Gallery.

In 1890, these scientific societies moved with their collections to the Domsky Ensemble, where a building was specially built for the needs of the museum on the street. Palasta, 4, so the museum was named Domskoy - according to its location. The Society for the Study of the History and Antiquities of the Baltic Provinces of Russia became its trustee. The Dome Museum housed the collections of the Himsel Museum: there was the Coin Office and various valuables that belonged to Riga.

In 1932, the Dome Museum with all its collections was included in the list of protected objects of the Latvian Monuments Authority, but in 1936 it was closed. At the same time, the Riga City Administration, on the basis of the deposited materials belonging to it (including items from the Himsel Museum), created the Riga City Historical Museum. The Monuments Administration donated cultural and historical materials related to the history of Riga and the numismatic collections of the former Dome Museum to this museum. The activity and development of the museum was interrupted by the Second World War, as well as the subsequent establishment of Soviet power in Latvia. The eviction of the Baltic Germans and the removal of collections to the countries occupied by the Germans contributed to the loss of part of the museum funds. During this period, the museum changed its name several times. In 1964, the museum received its current name "Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation", which reflects its new direction in work.

In 1940, in connection with the accession of Latvia to the USSR, the museum was nationalized, and since that time it has been under state supervision.

In 2005 the museum was reorganized into the State Agency.

Today, the museum's funds contain more than 500,000 items, systematized in about 80 collections.

The museum has three branches: in Riga - the Mentzendorf House. House-Museum of Rigans of the 16th-18th centuries (1992) and the Museum of Photography of Latvia (1993); in Ainazi - Ainazi Nautical School (opened in 1969).



Riga ship
The Riga ship is an archaeological find discovered during excavations in 1939 at the mouth of the Riga River led by Raul Schnore. The ship sank near the left bank, about 6.5 m below the current street level. During the excavations, the ancient port of Riga and settlements that existed long before the arrival of the Crusaders in the 13th century were discovered.

The ship dates from the end of the 12th - beginning of the 13th century. It is a single-masted sea vessel.

The Riga ship is made entirely of oak and looks like a large fishing boat. It was found at the intersection of 13 January Street, Valnu Street and Ridzenes Street. Its length reaches 14.3 meters; width - 4.9 meters; in the central part, the maximum height of the sides is 2.4 meters. Of the main elements of the hull of the Riga ship, one can note the keel, stems, frames, as well as 12 sheathing boards on each side. When the stem moves to the horizontal base of the vessel, one can observe pronounced sharp shapes, which may be a characteristic feature of the shipbuilding of a particular people (possibly Livs or Curonians). The stem forms an angle of 110-120 degrees with the base. It is the shape of the stem that distinguishes the ship from similar ones built according to Western European, Scandinavian or Slavic models, since they have a pronounced oval shape of the stem, unlike the Riga ship.

In 1984, engineers of the Central Design Bureau of Mechanization and Automation, together with researchers from the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, completed the drawings of the boat, calculating that the area of ​​its direct sail was about 50 sq.m. The outer skin boards were fastened with iron rivets and attached to the frames with oak rods. Radiocarbon analysis of the material, carried out at the Soyuzmorinzhgeologiya association, showed that the keel of the boat is 1300 years older than the skin! Thus, the ancient masters used bog oak, which became as hard as a stone, so that the boat could not only be sent on sea voyages, but also dragged overland.

Currently, the Riga ship is stored in the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation.