For years Jūrmala is known not only for its healing resources, but also for ancient fishermen villages on the shore of the Gulf of Riga. The principal occupation of the ancient inhabitants of Jūrmala was river and sea fishing.
The economic growth at the turn of the 19th–20th century in Latvia influenced the life in fishermen villages as well – new boats and ships were built, boat wharves and buildings were constructed. Thanks to Krišjānis Valdemārs, at the end of the 19th century the Latvian seafaring was reborn. After the studies, sons of fishermen became helmsmen and captains who travelled to faraway lands and seas. At the start of the 20th century, relationships among fishermen became tighter in order to be able to go fishing together, sell the catch and have fun as well. In 1904, the first Riga’s Jūrmala Fishermen Society was founded. Cooperative fishermen organisations continued to operate also during the first period of the independent Republic of Latvia.
The World Wars I and II severely affected the life of fishermen villages, in many places only the names of houses and boat wrecks sunken into dunes were remained from the former welfare. Many fishermen were killed at the war front, drowned in the sea or went away as refugees. During the harsh post-war years, fishermen had to collect their equipment completely anew – buy new boats, fishnets and other fishing inventories.
On 18 July 1947, the Riga’s Jūrmala Fishermen Society was abolished, and instead the Riga’s Jūrmala Fishermen Artel (since October of 1949 – fishermen kolkhoz “Uzvara”) was established.
In the course of time the kolkhoz turned into a strong and rich farming entity, its ships were fishing not only in the Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea, but also in the Atlantic Ocean, North Sea and Barents Sea. Modern coastal economy was built with fish-processing plants, a ship wharf, a vessel and equipment-repair base, a fish refrigerator house, woodworking and other production departments.
In 1970, when at the fishermen kolkhoz “Uzvara” many works had been finalised and there was enough money in the kolkhoz’s cash-office, the management together with Andrejs Šulcs (1910–2006), who was the artist of the kolkhoz and the first director of the museum at that time, decided to establish a museum of fishery in a pine forest near the Raga Dune.
In 1992, the collective farm of fishermen “Uzvara” was transformed into the joint-stock company “Jūraslīcis”. After the bankruptcy of the company, the Jūrmala Town Council purchased the buildings and collections of the museum in 2002. Since 1 January 2003, it functions as a branch of the Jūrmala Town Museum – Jūrmala Open-Air Museum, which is a significant part of culture and history of Jūrmala and entire Latvia. The Jūrmala Open-Air Museum serves to the whole community, it aims to popularise and study the development of the most ancient occupation of Jūrmala residents – fishery in Jūrmala and its nearest vicinity, to preserve the collection of fishery-related ethnographic buildings and historical testimonies at the museum for future generations.