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02 January 2002 - 31 December 2050
Tartumaa, Tartu

Estonian National Museum

Founded in Tartu in 1909 was dedicated to the memory of Jakob Hurt, one of the greatest collectors of folklore, to preserve his heritage

The main emphasis was laid on the material side - ethnographical objects related to ancient times and the life and customs of common people. As in many other European countries, primary importance was attached to the preservation of the old fading peasant culture. Besides that, many other things were also considered essential: things pertaining to cultural history contributing to better understanding of cultural development, archaeological findings (stone, bronze and iron objects), old coins, books, manuscripts and historical records. It was intended to set up a library including at least one copy of every Estonian book, an art collection comprising paintings the author or the contents of which were somehow connected with Estonia, photo archives, etc. To cut it short - the Estonian National Museum was designed to become a complete treasury of Estonian cultural heritage.
In the course of time a number of other museums, archives and libraries were also founded and the Estonian National Museum mainly concentrated on folk culture. Until World War II the Estonian National Museum had been accumulating everything related to Estonian national heritage; after that the 'verbal' part was separated and a new museum - the Museum of Literature - was founded. The responsibilities of two museums have remained the same up to the present.

The Estonian National Museum in a broader sense is a museum of cultural history taking first and foremost an ethnological approach to its subject matter. Our aim is to reflect everyday life, culture as a way of living, bearing the mind its temporal, spatial and social diversity.

The main emphasis is laid on preserving and investigating Estonian culture; besides that, other Finno-Ugric peoples, especially the nearest Balto-Finnic small nations are also in our sphere of interest.

The Estonian National Museum has been and will probably remain one of the most influential centres of ethnology in Estonia both in research and in teaching. It is worth mentioning that in the course of time the speciality of ethnology at the University of Tartu has depended on the researches and collections of the museum to a great extent. Scientific contacts with the Western colleagues reestablished only recently have generated many new ideas, broadened our minds and given us confidence in our future work.

J. Kuperjanovi 9

Event type: Museums
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     Estonian Institute 2002-2003