May 3, 2019

Best contemporary art places to experience in Riga Old Town

8 must visit art places in Riga old town.

Riga art checklist for Oldtown

I work in the gallery and one of my integral pleasures of life is art and culture. It brings me the knowledge, strength and full attitude of love to life. I would like to offer you my favourite art route in the Old Town, which I walk through to see, get to know and find out about the latest in the field of Latvian culture.

Riga’s oldtown is the historical and geographic centre of Riga that in itself is architectural artwork – thus it has been named by UNESCO as world heritage site.

To the list – it has been put in such an order to make sure you don’t go in circles, but some small detours to see some more magnificent buildings in Riga Old town.. On the way you’ll be able to enjoy art, see and visit small & exquisite boutiques, works of local craftsmen, small cafes and street vendors.

This is the ultimate contemporary art guide of our oldtown for arts connoisseur.

Stop 1: Art Gallery PUTTI

Established in 2000 and initially working to promote Latvian contemporary jewellery artists, it has grown into working with internationally recognized artists and projects of contemporary and conceptual jewellery, but making sure that this border is crossed once in a while. Dedicated exhibitions and projects are created 4-5 times a year and the pieces can not only be viewed (photos are encouraged), but also tried on and purchased.

Address: Peitavas iela 5-31, Vecrīga

Stop 2: Art gallery BASTEJS

Small, but gorgeous gallery hidden away on one of the smaller streets of oldtown – Alksnāja street. This is home of personal and group exhibitions of Baltic artists. Gallery also represents some of the Latvia’s most excellent artists.

Address: Alksnāja iela 7, Vecrīga

Next, take Vecpilsētas iela (iela = street) which takes you back centuries.

I would also like to mention a fantastic burger cafe on Vecpilsētas iela – STREET BURGER. For me it’s the most delicious burger in Riga. The burgers are made from local beef and lamb. Personally I love the fact you can enjoy the burgers not with bread, but with lettuce. DELICIOUS!!! It should be noted that the interior has retained the ancient interior structures, which, combined with contemporary, together create a very cozy atmosphere.

Address. : Vecpilsētas Street 8A, Old Town

Going down the Vecpilsētas iela you’ll reach Grēcinieku iela, which is one of the main old town’s arteries – here take a left and walk straight until you reach Fashion museum

Stop 3: Fashion museum

Museum itself has found its home in building that was built in 14th century that is an excellent backdrop for museum’s exhibits.

Museum always has an periodical exhibition that is dedicated to specific time or epoch + the main exhibition that is dedicated to overall history of fashion. It is not all about clothing though – footwear and accessories are plenty.

This museum makes good use of technology by augmenting the pieces displayed with audio and visual materials.

After the visit you might want to enjoy a cake and a coffee (they have specialty roasts) in museum’s café that is decorated in “Art Deco” style. Good place to reflect on what you have seen so far.

Address: Grēcinieku iela 24-1, Vecrīga

Stop 5: Rīgas mākslas telpa

Rīgas mākslas telpa translates directly as “Riga Art Space” and that is what encapsulates its essence.

To enter this modern art space that hosts various exhibitions you have to find the doors and go underground.

This museum (if it actually can be called museum) doesn’t have any permanent exhibitions, so they organise a lot of contemporary exhibitions, dance performances, concerts etc.

If something happens here while you’re in Riga, it’s usually a safe bet that it’s worth seeing.

Address: Kungu iela 3, Vecrīga

Stop 6: Museum of Decorative Arts and Design

(part of Latvian National Museum of Art)

Museum’s building used to be a church, built in 13th century. It’s the oldest stone wall building in use in Riga.

Museum prides itself on its very own 7 collections that include ceramics, metal art, leather art, decorative wood art, glass art and design collection.

It has its permanent collection, but also curates local and international themed exhibitions.

It’s location is right next to St. Peter’s church, which is the tallest church in Riga and has been mentioned in writings in year 1209. It has an elevator that you can use to get a view of Riga from above.

Address: Skārņu iela 10, Vecrīga

Stop 7: Art Museum RIGA BOURSE

(part of Latvian National Museum of Art)

In the mid-19th century the first product exchanges spawned in Riga and in 1856 this beautiful building was built.

Museum’s collection comes from former Riga city elders, merchants and burgomasters that mainly date back to the end of the 18th century and especially the 19th century. It has also has relied on other museum collections to create its own.

Museum has 4 permanent exhibitions, but Agita says she prefers the themed exhibitions which usually take place on the first floor which sometimes hosts concerts and even theatre plays.

Address: Doma laukums 6, Vecrīga

Stop 8 (the last one): ARSENĀLS Exhibition Hall

(also part of Latvian National Museum of Art)

One of the biggest art spaces in Riga as well as architectural monument – a customs warehouse or arsenal built at the beginning of the 19th century in the late Russian Classicism style, which was adapted for museum use in the second half of the 1980s.

This museum is the keeper of the national museum’s collection that covers the time from 20th century’s second half to present day. ARSENĀLS hosts conceptual art exhibitions and personal exhibitions of both Latvian and international artists.
Agita: “Must visit for contemporary art admirer in Riga.”

Address: Torņa iela 1, Vecrīga

Download the route or print the map here: