After seven years of planning and construction, the National Archives of Estonia opened its new main building Noora in Tartu this week. Following an invitational event on Wednesday, Noora kicked off a three-day open house on Thursday during which the public is welcome on guided tours of the facilities and can see the original 1920 Treaty of Tartu.
"Noora is the Estonian state and society's memory," state archivist Priit Prisko told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera." "Predominantly written memory, but not only. Namely the memory that bolsters the Estonian state and society just as people are bolstered by their own memory. If there were no archives, the state would be unable to function normally."
According to Access and Enquiry Department director Tõnis Türna, people interested in learning about their own family history, for example, should not be afraid to visit the archives. The understanding, he said, that the archives are a closed institution meant only for researchers is a thing of the past.
"Everyone for whom it seems difficult to begin and would still like to ask for help from an archivist is always welcome here," Türna said encouragingly. "We are open Monday through Friday; nobody will be sent away."
The open house event at Noora, located at Nooruse 3, Tartu, lasts through Saturday, and includes guided tours of the facility, hands-on workshops, a series of lectures and film screenings as well as the opportunity to see the original Treaty of Tartu from 1920. All events are free to the public.
Archive materials: from records dating back to the 13th century to nearly 10 million meters of film
According to its website, the National Archives, which also include branches in Tallinn, Rakvere and Valga, collects and preserves records documenting history, culture, nationhood and social conditions in Estonia regardless of time or place of creation or medium.
The collections of the archives include nearly 9 million records, the oldest of which dates back to 1240 — with the oldest on display at Noora, including a seal with the three leopards, or lions, used on Estonia's National Coat of Arms today, dating to 1252 — and more than 15 million digital images on the web, which represents approximately just 1.5 percent of the archives' collections.
The National Archives also boast 9.5 million meters of film recordings, more than half a million photos, almost 100,000 maps, 2,200 seals and approximately 1,500 parchments.
The digitized collections of the National Archives can be accessed via the Archives Information System AIS (link in Estonian).
Friday, Feb. 3
10 a.m. — guided tours of the facility; conservators' workshop on conservation chemistry and simpler tests
11 a.m. — curator-guided tour of "Twists and Turns" exhibit about the birth of the Estonian state; guided tour of former party archives repository
12 p. m. — guided tours of the facility; smartphone-based family workshop "Let's Make Our Own Film!"
1 p.m. — curator-guided tour of "Twists and Turns" exhibit; guided tour of former party archives repository
2 p. m. — guided tours of the facility; conservators' workshop: marble paper making
3 p.m. — curator-guided tour of "Twists and Turns" exhibit; film program: a snapshot of the film archives
4 p. m. — guided tours of the facility; conservators' workshop: marble paper making; smartphone-based family workshop "Let's Make Our Own Film!"
5 p.m. — lecture: historian Tõnu Tannberg on the collections of the former party archives
6 p.m. — presentation of the collection "World War I and Eesti II"
Saturday, Feb. 4
11 a.m. — guided tours of the facility; family workshop: Blackletter (Gothic script); film program: a snapshot of the film archives
12 p.m. — curator-guided tour of "Twists and Turns" exhibit; conservators' workshops: papermaking, organization and preservation of personal archives (participants asked to take along volume or document in need of repair)
1 p.m. — guided tours of the facility; family workshop: signets and seals
2 p.m. — lecture: historian Aadu Must on researching family history
3 p.m. — guided tours of the facility; curator-guided tour of "Twists and Turns" exhibit; film program: presentation of the DVD "On the Threshold of Estonian Cinema (1926-1937)"
The Treaty of Tartu will be on display throughout the open house event. Archivists will also be on hand to answer questions about archive services and the use of archival sources.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla