The Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation is the oldest public museum in Latvia and the Baltic, and is one of the oldest in Europe. The Museum is located in Old Town, in a noteworthy 13th – 20th century architectural monument – the Riga Dome complex.
The origins of the Museum are to be found in the 18th century. At the heart of this rich and varied exhposition is the personal collection of the Riga doctor Nikolas von Himzel’s (1729-1764) scientific and artistic exhibits. After his death his mother, Katrina von Himzel, gave the collection to the city of Riga, in accordance with her son’s wishes.
On 22 February 1773 the Riga Town Council established the Museum, giving it the name of von Himzel, and housing it in the building of the theater of anatomy at Kaleju iela 34/36 (the building has not survived). In 1791 the Museum was moved to the eastern wing of the Riga Dome complex, which was rebuilt to suit the needs of the city library and the Museum.
The history of the Museum is closely tied to the activities of the society for the study of the history and antiquity of the Baltic Provinces of Russia (founded in 1834), the Riga society for the study of nature (1845), the literary-practical citizens’ society (1802), and the association of practicing doctors of Riga (1822).The collections of all these societies were exibited in the so-called Riga Museum formed in 1958 and located at Šķūņu iela 11.