The main exhibition building, of high historical value, is a typical example of 19th century industrial architecture. It was built in the second half of the 19th century for a metal plant belonging to Emil Kelch. During the period between the world wars, it was a manufacturing plant for “Arkona”, metal producer. During the Second World War the building was used as a transition camp for expelled Polish people. Later it was turned into a production plant for optical equipment for military purposes. After the war, gas meters and household equipment were produced here.
In 1980 Tczew city gave the building to National Maritime Museum in Gdańsk, which started adaptation work for the planned Vistula River Museum. Today it is still the biggest river museum in Poland.
The official opening of the museum was held on 13 April 1984, when visitors got access to the first permanent exposition, “The history of sailing on the Vistula river”, and on 8 October 1984 the second exhibition followed: “Folk boats from the Vistula river basin”.
Since 2004 to 2007 building was reconditioned. General Overhaul was financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the Economy and Labour Ministry and the local government of Tczew. Currently the building hosts The Vistula River Museum and The Regional and Showground Centre of the Vistula River Valley, managed by the City of Tczew. Building was also adapted for the handicaped.