The Latvian Open-Air Ethnographic Museum is one of the oldest and largest open-air museums in Europe. 118 old buildings from all historical districts of Latvia – Kurzeme, Vidzeme, Zemgale and Latgale – built from the end of the 17th century up to the second half of the 1930s have been relocated, reconstructed and furnished.
Farmsteads of Latvian farmers, craftsmen, and fishermen have been created in the museum. They all house the permanent exhibition – household and working tools, interior furnishings – which characterises the time period, the district, and the owners’ vocation. The farmsteads of Liv fishermen from Kurzeme and Russian Old Believers from Latgale are also open to visitors.
The museum was established in 1924, and so compared to similar establishments elsewhere in the world, its collection is unique because its formation started at a time when many objects were still preserved and had not been destroyed in the war. The Open-Air Museum covers an area of 87.66 hectares of a pine forest in Riga on the shores of Jugla Lake.
The display at the exhibition hall (the former barn of a manor house) is changed several times per year. Nature lovers are attracted by the rich plant and animal life. Various events are regularly held at the museum, craftsmen work here, seasonal festivities are celebrated – moreover, all visitors are welcome to take part in these celebrations, traditions, and to try out the old crafts. The annual grand fair is exceptionally popular, it is held at the Open-Air Museum every June, and in 2010 – already for the 40th time!
During summer week-ends masters of the old crafts work in the farmsteads, visitors can observe scenes from ancient life and participate in various events and celebrations. Winter offers sledge rides, possibility to try your hand in ice-fishing, to slide on a sledge-wheel ride. The slopes and paths of the museum are popular among skiers. More than 135 thousand people from all over the world visit the museum annually.
A service is held at Usma Church every Sunday at 10:00. Visitors can use the children’s playground and they can go on a horseback ride. Meals can be enjoyed near Vidzeme farmstead and in Priedes Pub. Guided tours can be arranged in advance by phoning. +371 67994106. Information on the Open-Air Museum is available on website aswell you can have a virtual tour.
The Museum can be reached by buses No. 1, 821,826, 19 and 28, getting off at the bus-stop "Open-Air Museum" ("Brīvdabas muzejs") or by tram No.6, getting off at the final stop.