Hundred-year-old museum going 'forward with a hundred!'

  • 2009-09-17
  • By Ella Karapetyan

DOLL HOUSE: National Museum's collection of riches open to the public.

TALLINN - Art plays an important role in the life of a man, and sometimes it is close to impossible to live without it. It is natural that the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of the word 'art' is the museum, a stock of the world's masterpieces, a place where one can be enriched with knowledge, to look at the achievements of mankind and satisfy one's aesthetic tastes. Museums give the possibility to be always in touch with the past, and every time to discover something new for oneself. Museums play an important role in the life of any nation. In fact, a museum is just the right place to find out lots of interesting things about history, traditions and the habits of different peoples.

Psychologists claim that museums somehow affect the formation of personality, of one's outlook. Every educated person is sure to understand the great significance of museums in our life, more so today, when, after the humdrum of everyday life, you may go to your favorite museum, relax there with your body and soul and acquire an inner harmony and balance.
This year the Estonian National Museum celebrates its 100th anniversary. The event coincides with the founding of Estonia.

Estonian museum traditions started in the early 19th century when the owner of Town Hall Pharmacy, Johann Burchard VIII, presented his curiosity collection, Mon Fable (French for 'my weakness'). After that, other private museums were established including the Estonian History Museum. The first art museum opened in Tartu University in 1862.

The Estonian National Museum has over one million artifacts which have been collected during the last one hundred years. Objects, drawings, photographs, films and archival items make it possible to study and absorb very different areas, from the past until today, to research the environment of human beings and to explore their world of thought.

The collections contain items on the Estonian and Finno-Ugric cultures. The professional library contains more than 30,000 printed materials, also the research on ethnology by the students of Tartu University throughout time.

The museum tracks the history, life and traditions of the Estonian people, presents the culture and history of other Finno-Ugric peoples, and the minorities in Estonia. It has a comprehensive display of traditional Estonian national costumes from all regions. A collection of wood-carved beer tankards illustrates the traditional peasant feasts and holidays. The exhibition includes an array of other handicrafts, from hand-woven carpets to linen tablecloths. The Estonian National Museum has been, and will probably remain, one of the most influential centers of ethnology in Estonia, both in research and in teaching. Through the years, the University of Tartu's ethnology department has to a great extent depended on the research and collections of the museum.

The photographic collection of the museum was founded side by side with the museum itself. In addition to photographs, the collection also comprises postcards, printed pictures collected during the first years of the museum, as well as negatives and new versions of fading photographs. The collection includes pictures of historical events and persons, people's occupations and customs, views of town and countryside, as well as those introducing the everyday life of Finno-Ugric people. In spite of thematic variety, the photographic collection comprises a great number of pictures depicting life in the town of Tartu. The photographic collection of the ENM is the second largest in Estonia.

However, Estonian Folk Culture is family and home-based, this aspect of which reveals itself in religion, worldview, as well as in objects and people themselves, in both town and countryside. The Estonian National Museum displays an overview of Estonian folk culture in the permanent exhibition of the musem.