The nearly three football field-sized Estonian National Museum (ENM), with over one million artefacts and having seen its 1 millionth visitor in 2022, will be offering a slew of permanent and temporary exhibitions during 2023.
The ‘Echo of the Urals’ exhibition is dedicated to the indigenous Finno-Ugric peoples who have not become independent nations but who populate vast expanses of land along the northern edge of Eurasia, from Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea to the Taymyr Peninsula and the Yenisei River in Siberia.
Around a tenth of the museum’s Finno-Ugric collection is on display here. The exhibition focuses on both where these peoples live and the rituals for which they are known. The blue river running through the space unites all of the aspects of the exhibition. One recent visitor captured the essence of ‘Echo of the Urals’ in a single sentence: “The museum as a whole is modern and has lots to offer, with the Finno-Ugric exhibition being beautiful to look at – it’s almost like you’re winding your way through a fun fair.”
The ‘Encounters’ exhibition showcases the ordinary people who have lived, in what is now Estonia, throughout the ages. Covering more than 3700 m2, it takes visitors on a trip through time from the present day back to the Stone Age. Here you will find the first ever Estonian flag and reminders of the Cold War era, and learn about food culture in the country, traditional signing and Estonian sign language.
One of the coolest details of the museum’s permanent exhibitions is that museum tickets are smart: scan yours on any of the information screens and they will automatically switch to the language of your choice. (English being one of them, needless to say!) The smart ticket also allows you to collect up all the information, take it home with you and read over it again there.
In February, the exhibition ‘Right Body, Wrong Body?’ will be opened; it put together by museum’s own researchers, examining how the human body has been understood and imagined in Estonia over time. Then, in March, an exhibition of farm chairs throughout history will be opening, shining the spotlight on pieces from the museum’s collection.
Messages in a triangle. Souvenir scarfs for Song Festival, Olympic Games, cities, festivals, events and institutions were valued accessories in the 20th century, which reflected everyday life in Estonia during the Soviet period. They were designed by recognized artists, they reflected the art trends and fashions of different decades, and they were often the canvases of Estonia for designers, thus carrying the aspirations of freedom and messages from the free world of the Soviet grey everyday life. Nearly half a hundred scarfs that tell their own stories are at the exhibition.
The museum hosts a wide range of events on a daily basis: conferences, seminars, receptions, parties, concerts, performances and, of course, exhibition openings. Its outdoor space has hosted a concert by rock superstars Metallica, while the museum and its surroundings have served as the competition centre for the WRC Rally Estonia for a number of years now. The majority of the events that take place at the museum are open to all visitors. Check the schedule on the museum website.
Refreshments and souvenirs
The museum’s restaurant, Pööripäev, is open during museum hours i.e. from 10:00-18:00 Tuesday to Sunday. Enjoying extensive views, the restaurant offers coffee and cake as well as full meals. Lunch specials are offered from 12:00-15:00 on weekdays.
Meanwhile, the museum shop sells a wide range of souvenirs and other items, including Estonian design, folk handicrafts and local flavours. And anyone opts not to buy something that catches his or her eye but later changes mind, it can be ordered from the museum’s online store at any time, for delivery anywhere in the world!
Sculpture park and Raadi Manor
Alongside the museum building, which is a full 355 metres in length, is a sculpture park perfect for strolling through, whatever the season. You can also explore the old distillery, admire the ducks and other birds on Lake Raadi and count the oak trees planted here over the last six years. There is also a children’s playground and, for slightly older visitors, a traditional Estonian swing.
Raadi Manor is ideal for relaxed walks and soaking up the atmosphere of the golden age of the Baltic German era. The park is home to a collection of sculptures curated in cooperation with Tartu Art Museum, featuring pieces from the last 80 years.
Not far from the museum you will also find the Upside-Down House and Tartu Snow Park.
How to get to the museum
The museum is at Muuseumi Street 2 in Tartu, just 2.5 km or half an hour’s stroll from the city centre along Roosi Street.
You can get here on bus no. 7 or 25, the latter direct from the railway station.
For drivers, there is a large car park right in front of Entrance A.
The museum is fully accessible to wheelchair users and those with prams.
The museum is perfectly safe to visit! It is spacious, with plenty of room and fresh air for everyone. With coronavirus still spreading, we continue to offer disinfection stations around the museum, and our staff look out for both their health and yours.
The museum is open from 10:00-18:00 Tuesday-Sunday.
Ticket information: +372 736 3051