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Swedish enthusiast takes exhibit visitors on a trip to Soviet-era Tallinn

The new exhibition at the Museum of Occupations, "The Tallinn Collector. The history of Tallinn tourism in the Soviet Union" introduces Tallinn through true-to-the-era printed material gathered by a Swedish hobbyist.

The exhibition consists of postcards, photographs and accompanying texts collected from Soviet tourist brochures and travel guides from the years 1940-1991, a continuation of a showing last year at the Telliskivi Creative City.

The exhibition encompasses imagery from Soviet-era hotels, restaurants and cafés, the Mustamäe district, the train station Balti jaam as well as the Tallinn Airport, inviting its visitors to rediscover Estonia as a tourist in the Soviet era. As well as seeing of what Tallinn used to look like, visitors will also be able to catch a glimpse how those responsible for promoting the city wanted it to look like.

"The Tallinn Collector" is curated by Tomas Alexandersson, who also runs the web-based digital museum by the same name. Alexandersson has been collecting materials for the past few years, leading to the creation of the online museum alongside exhibitions.

Having first discovered a 1970s travel guide of the city whilst living in Tallinn, seeking out the nostalgia-inducing postcards and photographs from dusty shelves in second-hand shops eventually turned into a fully-fledged hobby.

“I’m very fascinated about history and the ‘past and present – before and after’ comparison. I’ve also been very interested in the history of the Soviet Union. So when I moved to Tallinn in 2005, I started to collect Soviet-era travel guidebooks, postcards and brochures about Tallinn from random second-hand stores and markets. Some of my friends were also very kind to donate them from their parents or grandparents. I thought they were exiting to browse through, to see how Tallinn was portrayed in picture and text in the past. It’s also very fascinating and scary to read about the tourist information with both propaganda and ideological messages,” Alexandersson told Estonian World.

"The Tallinn Collector. The history of Tallinn tourism in the Soviet Union" will run through August 30 at the Museum of Occupations in Tallinn.

Editor: A. Kaer

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