Seaside Open-Air Museum
A branch of Ventspils Museum, the Seaside Open-Air Museum was founded in 1954 by order of the executive committee of the time (as the Ventspils Museum of Maritime Fishing). It’s sphere of activity encompasses the Kurzeme coast of the Baltic Sea. A 7-hectare plot of land was granted to the museum, and it opened to visitors on 3 June 1962. The first director, Andrejs Šulcs, made a great contribution to the establishment of the museum and the collection of exhibits. Part of the exhibition is located out of doors, and part is within an exhibition hall and gallery building opened on 5 June 1970, which also houses the museum collections. These include more than 20 000 items, reflecting all aspects of the life of Latvian and Liv fishermen and farmers. The largest of the museum’s 600 exhibits is a windmill from Piņķi in Užava Parish, brought to the museum in the early 70s, while the smallest is a needle used to attach floats to a net. The greater part of the collection was brought together in the 60s and 70s.
A favourite attraction at the Seaside Open-Air Museum, at the same time an educational feature, is the narrow-gauge railway, with its 1.4 km long Circle line and 3,0 km long Mountain line. Such a railway was built by the German Army during the First World War, connecting Ventspils with the fishing villages along the coast. Since 1964, one of the locomotives, of which a small number were produced in Germany, is the property of the museum, and thanks to support from sponsors, it still attracts visitors. The open-air exhibition also includes the museum’s collection of anchors, the oldest of which date from the 18th century. In summer 2002, the anchor collection was augmented with several impressive pieces. The museum’s activities are not limited to a static permanent exhibition: traditional annual festivals are marked, and during the summer season (from May until 31 October) craft-workers-a weaver, a smith and a potter-give demonstrations of their skills.