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Robust folk traditions, contemporary art and past political upheaval and sombre eras are all the subjects of the unusual, fascinating museums you’ll find as you travel through the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
There are about 250 museums in Estonia for you to enjoy. Kumu Art Museum displays an overview of Estonian art from the classic period to the present and has a great collection of Estonian Modernists and Socialistic realism. The Estonian History Museum collects and displays all kinds of interesting exhibits from ancient Arabic gold coins to medieval weaponry. The museum itself is situated in the medieval Great Guild Hall in Tallinn Old Town. The Estonian Maritime Museum tells of the rich history of the Baltic Sea and has ships on display. You can also look inside the only surviving pre-World War II diesel submarine. Tartu Toy Museum is located in an old wooden building in the heart of Tartu’s Old Town and displays toys that children in Estonia have played with throughout the ages. The museum has play and workshop rooms and children are also offered the opportunity to partake in a filmmaking programme.
Latvia has an impressive number of museums exhibiting a fascinating range of relics. See how Latvians lived when Vikings were abroad elsewhere at the 9th century Āraiši Lake Castle, a reconstructed Latgalian settlement. For outdoorsy types there’s the Natural History Museum of Latvia and for indoorsy types the The Museum of Decorative Arts and Design. For those interested in medicine, a visit to the Museums of the History of Medicine, Pharmacy and Anatomy are worthwhile. See pre-historic methods of treatment, including witches and shamans and the use of amulets, the medieval methods for treating leprosy to contemporary discoveries in medicine and space medicine.
Riga Art Nouveau Museum is located in one of the most magnificent streets of Riga and you can see The dreamy museum of the famous master of fantasy, Hieronymus Friedrich Karl von Munchausen (yes, that Baron) is within a canon-ball flight of Riga in Dunte.
Lithuania’s Soviet heritage is distinctly reflected both in the architectural and in collections. An impressive collection of sculptures from Soviet times is displayed at Grūtas Park; military might is illustrated by the former Soviet missiles underground base in Plokštinė at Žemaitija National Park. The Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius (The KGB museum) introduces the most terrible period of the Soviet era. The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Vilnius reflects the multi-century Jewish history in Lithuania, as well as genocide of the Jews during World War II.
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