University of Tartu Museum nominated for European Museum of the Year Award

The University of Tartu Museum.
The University of Tartu Museum. Source: Mana Kaasik

The University of Tartu Museum has been nominated for the 2023 European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA). The award has been presented annually by the European Museum Forum since 1977, with next year's prize due to be handed out in Barcelona in May.

The EMYA is awarded to museums, which have undergone a major overhaul in the preceding three year. Between 2018 and 2021, new exhibitions at the University of Tartu Museum have been installed to make the museum more visitor-friendly, as well as highlighting the importance of both the University of Tartu and Tartu Cathedral in the Estonian and European cultural space.

During this time, the museum opened its new permanent exhibition "My Life at the University," a portrait exhibition of 100 scientists entitled "100 Faces of the University of Tartu," as well as both indoor and outdoor exhibitions dedicated to the history of Tartu Cathedral. The museum's temporary exhibition hall and student laboratory have also been renovated, while benches dedicated to researchers from the university were installed in the surrounding Toomemägi Park.

"Naturally, we are delighted with the nomination. We haven't completely renovated the museum building, but have introduced new solutions gradually, proving that even with less funding, big changes can be made," said Mariann Raisma, director of the museum.

"We have created an immersive museum experience, with the atmosphere at the heart of the building. I believe that it is the unique atmosphere, combined with fascinating artefacts and modern museological solutions, that makes a visit here so special and unforgettable," Raisma said.

In addition to assessing the museums' exhibitions, the jury also takes into account educational activities, quality of services, the work of the collections, community involvement and social and environmental sustainability, when deciding the winner of the award.

The University of Tartu Museum has collected  and preserved almost 250,000 items related to the history of the university reaching back over a period of four centuries. The items in the collection reflect the development of university education, research and teaching in Estonia.

A total of 33 museums from 18 different countries are in the running for the title of 2023 European Museum of the Year. The winner is due to be announced at a ceremony in Barcelona next May.

In 2008, the European Museum of the Year Award's (EMYA) main prize was won by Tallinn's Kumu Art Museum, while special prizes have also been awarded to the Seaplane Harbor (Estonian Maritime Museum) and Haapsalu Fortress. In 2018, Estonian National Museum (ERM) was given the EMYA Kenneth Hudson Special prize and then hosted the awards ceremony in May 2022.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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