Museum of the Occupation (Riga)

Museum of the Occupation (Riga)


Strēlnieku laukums 1

Open: 11am- 5pm May- Sept

Closed: Mon Oct- Apr, holidays


Description of Museum of the Occupation

Museum of the Occupation (Riga)

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is a private museum in Riga maintained by the Association of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, which presents the fifty-year history of the occupation of Latvia from 1940 to 1991. It reflects the first Soviet occupation (1940-1941), the National Socialist German occupation (1941-1944/45) and the second Soviet occupation (1944/45-1991). The motto of the museum is Remember. To mention. To remind.

The museum is located in a separate building at 1 Latviešu strēlnieku lauku, but due to the reconstruction of the building, from 2012 to the spring of 2022, it was located at 7 Rainiš bulvāri.


Museum exposition and storage

The exposition of the museum tells about the life in Latvia at that time: about the policy of the occupying powers, about the Soviet and Nazi terror, the collapse of the Latvian state economy and the cultural policy of the totalitarian Soviet and Nazi ideologies, about the resistance of the people of Latvia to the occupying powers until the restoration of the independent state of Latvia in 1991. At the beginning of 2012, the collection of the museum contained more than 50,000 items (documents, photographs, written, oral and material testimonies, objects and memorabilia). Museum specialists have recorded more than 2,000 video testimonies, and it is one of the largest collections dedicated to the topic of occupation in Europe.

The exhibition, renewed in 2022, covers 867 square meters, is placed in 106 specially designed showcases, 15 video projections and 19 screens with testimonies and other information are used. The exposition is designed as a latticed labyrinth of darkness between the bright stages of independence. The crimes of the occupation authorities are shown in an explanatory and emotionally appealing way with many testimonies and stories of fate.



In 1993, Paulis Lazda, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, submitted to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia a proposal to create a new museum about the period of occupation of Latvia from 1940 to 1991. In the spring of 1993, for the establishment and maintenance of the Latvian Occupation Museum, the Latvian 50-year Occupation Museum Fund was established, which was sold in 2006 as the Society of the Latvian Occupation Museum. On July 1, 1993, the museum's first exhibition was opened in the premises of the former Latvian Riflemen Museum.

On November 18, 2012, in the temporary premises of the museum at 7 Rainiša bulvāri, an honorary plaque of the museum's donors was opened with the names of users who donated more than 5,000 lats. Among the biggest donors is Aina Galēja-Dravniece, the founder of the Latvian Occupation Museum scholarship, who supported the internship of American Latvian youth at the Latvian Occupation Museum. She also financially supported the organization of the Latvian Occupation Museum's traveling exhibition.

In June 2021, the "Tactile of History" commemorating the victims of the occupation was opened in Latviešu strelnieki square next to the museum. Its authors are artist Kristaps Ģelzis, architect Ilze Miķelsone and sonologist Voldemārs Johansons.


The house of the future

In 2001, architect Gunārs Birkerts presented the vision of the "House of the Future" project to the Museum of Occupation. In 2011, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted a decision on the financing of the construction of the memorial complex for the victims of the Soviet occupation, which provided that the reconstruction of the museum and the construction of the extension should be completed by December 31, 2013. However, in June 2012, after receiving a submission regarding a violation of the procurement procedure, the construction tender was suspended. Only on March 1, 2013, "Valsts nekustamie ipsumi" and SIA "Būvprojektu vādas" concluded an agreement on the development and author supervision of the technical project for the reconstruction of the building of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia.

In September 2018, with the ceremonial embedding of a capsule with a message for future generations, reconstruction works of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia began. At the end of 2021, the reconstruction works of the building ended and on November 17, the museum started moving to its original premises.

The new exposition was opened in the premises of the rebuilt museum on May 30, 2022, the event was attended by President Egils Levits and Minister of Culture Nauris Puntulis.