Mission of the Museum is to discover and represent the unique history of the River Daugava as well as the one of town Salaspils and its surroundings from 8000 BC till the present day being a significant part of both European and Latvian cultural heritage.
Development of the Museum
Museum of the River Daugava was established in 1969, the exhibition was opened for visitors in 1977. During the first decades it was named the Dole History Museum while holding the present designation since 1993. The Museum is subjected to the Municipality of Salaspils since 1996.
The idea about creating the Museum appeared in the context of the Riga hydroelectric power plant (HPP) construction works carried out here in 1966-1976. Before the Riga HPP reservoir was created in the river valley, extensive archaeological investigation took place in this territory providing a rich amount of material culture remains dating back to the first human settlements created on the territory of present-day Latvia.
The Museum of the River Daugava is located at the centre of former Dole Island, near the arm of the river called Sausā Daugava (the Dry Daugava) opposite to the town of Ķekava. The building of the Museum is a former dwelling house of the Dole (in German: Dahlen) estate, and it was constructed in 1898.
In the 1920s a local parish school was organized here, then, during the Sovietization after the World War II it became a centre for local fishermen’s collective farm staying there till the beginning of Riga HPP construction works. In 1977 the Museum of the River Daugava was opened here.
The collection of the Museum is focused on the history of the River Daugava and its nearest surroundings from the time when the first inhabitants appeared in this region until the present-day situation. In December 2010 Museum’s collection counted more than 51 800 units, including 34 358 units of the basic collection. Among the most valuable parts of this collection there are fishing tools (comprising the unique reconstruction of fishing weirs for catching salmon and lamprey, located in the Museum’s park) as well as photographs, historical postcards and ethnographic items representing various crafts once connected to the river.
Since 1978 annual ethnographic expeditions were organized by the Museum resulting in collecting of complex evidence on the every-day life customs, ethnic folk traditions and different branches of occupations along the river in a region reaching from the border with the Republic of Belarus and ending at estuary of Daugava into the Gulf of Riga.
The Museum provides information on historical events that took place along the River Daugava as well as on the development of local cultures in this region. In the exhibition devoted to the prehistory of the Daugava valley outstanding archaeological evidence is presented starting from the first human settlement at Salaspils Laukskola archaeological site of the Late-Palaeolithic age (ca 8000 BC) and up to the first mediaeval stone-constructed building complex in the Baltic States, the castle and church built in Ikšķile (Uexkuell) in 1184. The area of population spreading along the river emerged as soon as the first settlements were established connected to trading activities and various crafts. This developments pattern is also exposed by the rich archaeological material excavated at the Daugmale hill fort (1000 BC – 1200 AD) situated near Salaspils. During the Late Iron Age (800 – 1200 AD) the lower reaches of the Daugava was a cross-cultural milieu where impacts of the local ethnies e.g. the Balts, the ancient Livonians and the Scandinavians intersected with the first Christian missionaries coming to this part of the North-Eastern Europe around that time. Later on, when the Livonian Confederation was established during the 13th century leading to creation of new towns and settlements near Daugava, the mediaeval way of life is represented in the exhibition by various household items and arms belonging to this particular epoch ending after the Livonian War in 1583.
Apart from pre-historical and historical evidence linked to archaeology and the Daugava as international trade route it is the intention of the Museum to share knowledge on causes and effects created by human activities directly affecting the river to fulfil human needs and goals in modern and contemporary ages. Therefore different tools and implements used by fishermen as well as people engaged in boating and rafting are exposed at the Museum. Ferries, bridges and dams built across and along the Daugava stream from the 18th century onwards were the first hydro technical objects gradually changing the natural flow of the river. In 1939 the first HPP on Daugava was established at Ķegums thereby starting a new age in the interaction of human and natural factors that shape both the cultural historical landscape and conditions of life for residents of the Daugava valley. Visiting the Museum one can experience the visual image and descriptional data concerning the way River Daugava was before construction of the HPP cascade in the 20th century by comparing ‚then’ and ‚now’.
The Museum of the River Daugavas manages three buildings: the former dwelling house, or residence, of the Dole Manor where exhibition room as well as administration office and part of the collection is located, and two more buildings used for keeping the collection and technical purposes.
Park surrounding the Dole Manor residence was layed out in the second half of the 18th century when the Dole Manor belonged to a Baltic-German nobleman Otto Hermann von Vietinghof-Scheel (1722-1792).
The history of manors and agricultural estates in Latvia is characterized by several common as well as distinctional, local and/or regional features from which the history of Dole Manor is no exception. As a rule, the agricultural estates and manors in the early modern period (16th-17th century) emerged at the very place or close to previous settlements this way holding a kind of continuous tradition. This was also the case in Dole Island, too: On the second half of the 14th century the Neu-Dahlen/Jaundole castle was built at the southern coast of Dole Island near the Dry Daugava arm, close to the later manor centre. The castle was destructed in 1627 during the Polish-Swedish military campaign affecting the surroundings of Riga. There is a shield placed near the Museum providing some information on the Jaundole castle since no visible construction remains of the latter are left today.
The Dole manor itself was established jus a few years later, in 1631 and the first property owner was a Swedish colonel Nicholaus Dietrich Sperreuter. The territory of Dole manor as well as the owners of it changed in the course of time. More lands were gradually included spreading along the whole Dole Island and across the Daugava River.
From the 18th century onwards the Dole manor belonged to various representatives of the Baltic German family von Loewis of Menar holding the place up to Wold War I.
In 1898 the new dwelling house was built in a brick-style construction (probably unfinished) typical for architecture of the late historicism epoch. The polychrome painting of building’s façade was reconstructed in 2005.
After the agrarian reform carried out in the Republic of Latvia in the 1920s almost all agricultural lands previously belonging to Baltic German nobility were divided in smaller farms while manor centres became local parish schools.
Director of the Museum
General collection manager