Quick Call
Home Destination guide Museums in Tallinn Estonian History Museum

Estonian History Museum

The Estonian History Museum began to evolve in the 19th century when interest in history increased explosively. The very first private museum in Estonia grew out of a collecting hobby: Town Council chemist Johann Burchart established his Mon Faible (my weakness) in 1802. His collection is still one of the most attractive parts of present museum.
Address: Pikk tn., 17
 
The History Museum as such was founded in 1842 when the Estonian Literary Society was established in Tallinn. The Society aimed at «studying the homeland in greater detail through its history, art, production, technology and nature» and considered the museum a means for this end. The collections were based both on collecting and donations. When the collections kept growing, it was decided to shelter them in a local provincial museum.
The Estonian Literary Society Provincial Museum was founded in 1864 and in the autumn of the same year exposition was opened to public in the rooms of the former St. Canute's Guild in Pikk Street. In 1911 the museum moved to the palace bought specially for it in Kohtu Street, on the slope of Toompea. Being the sole museum in a provincial town, it soon became the cultural centre with its exhibitions and lectures, developing the taste and attitudes of Tallinn citizens for decades.
The museum held on to its position also in the Republic of Estonia (1918-1940). Very much thanks to the Baltic-German scholars the collections kept growing. The archaeology collection that was continuously increasing should be pointed out first, but the others like that of natural sciences, archive materials and culture kept growing, too.
In 1940 when Estonia was sincorporated in the Soviet Union, big changes took place: the museum was nationalised and renamed the State History Museum of the Estonian SSR. Some of the collections were transferred to other museums. The collection of natural sciences became the basis for the Museum of Natural Sciences. In the post-war years the museum was subjected to several unjustified actions like the liquidation of the so-called harmful materials — i.e. everything connected with independent Estonia. Quite a few basic materials, however, have survived thanks to the curators' and keepers' personal enthusiasm.