Program for owners of rural buildings in Estonia wins prestigious EU prize for cultural heritage
A training program offered by the Estonian Open Air Museum in Tallinn to owners of authentic rural homes was named one of the winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award in the category of education, training and awareness-raising.
The Jury recognized the museum's initiative to help owners of traditional rural houses as an example to the rest of Europe.
"The majority of Estonian farm architecture are not listed monuments, and their preservation remains solely the responsibility of the owners. People in rural areas need practical advice, with examples to follow, in how to renovate their old rural properties," Europa Nostra, the Europe-wide cultural heritage federation, said about the motivation behind the program.
Since 2008, the museum has organized more than 80 practical training courses for over 1,700 participants.
"It helps not only to preserve traditional building skills and use of traditional materials, but promotes the integration of modern technology to adapt houses for the 21st century. The fact that over the years so many homeowners have participated, is proof of the program’s practical success," the Jury said.
Minister of Culture Indrek Saar said the award is a great honor for Estonia.
"Like in most other European countries, farm architecture in Estonia does not receive any protection or help from the state," said Elo Lutsepp, the head of Estonian Open Air Museum's Center of Rural Architecture, which is responsible for the program. "We believe that we have helped and encouraged many owners of authentic rural homes. At the same time, we hope that our experience inspires peers in other countries," she added.
The EU Prize/Europa Nostra Awards, the top heritage management awards in Europe, have been presented to outstanding achievements in preservation of cultural heritage since 2002. In 2015, 28 of the initially nominated 263 projects received recognition in four different categories: conservation, research and digitization, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising.
The Estonian Open Air Museum was established in 1957 to preserve and introduce Estonian rural architecture and village landscape. It now also operates several competence centers.