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Two Estonian museums nominated for coveted European award

The Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum in Tartu.
The Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum in Tartu. Source: Jan Henrik Pärnik

The Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum in Tartu and the Kalamaja Museum in Tallinn have both been nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA). The EMYA is presented by the European Museums Forum, with the winner to be announced in Portimão, Portugal, next May.

To be eligible for the European Museum of the Year Award, a museum must have either first opened or undergone significant renovations since January 2019.

During this time, the Sports Museum has rebuilt its main floors and opened a new permanent exhibition entitled "The Story of Estonian Sports." The museum has also opened one of its storerooms to the public, developed its own web app (Digital Companion) and opened up the first temporary major exhibition on extreme sports.

 "We are extremely happy about the EMYA nomination, it is a huge recognition for us, especially as we have been selected as one of the best museums in Europe in the year when Tartu is the European Capital of Culture," said Siim Randoja of the Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum.

"There have not been many sports museums nominated [for this award], there have been few, and we are very proud to be at the front of the line," Randoja added.

The Kalamaj Museum in Tallinn. Source: Aron Urb

The Kalamaja Community Museum was created in conjunction with the people of Kalamaja and opened on September 24, 2021. Dozens of former and current fishmongers were involved in the creation of the museum's permanent exhibition, donating artefacts and sharing their memories of life in Kalamaja.

According to Kristi Paats, director of the Kalamaja Museum, the EMYAs are the Oscars for European museums, so receiving a nomination is a really big deal.

"Estonia has very good museums and this is a very strong recognition for our museum landscape. It will certainly attract more attention and definitely bring more people to this small museum," Paats said.

The European Museum Awards have been held since 1977 and are the most prestigious international competition for the continent's museums.

Among the previous winners are the Kumu Art Museum (Art Museum of Estonia, 2008). Three Estonian museums have also received special EMYA prizes: the Seaplane Harbor Museum (Estonian Maritime Museum) and Haapsalu Fortress (Haapsalu and Läänemaa Museums SA). In addition, the Estonian National Museum (ERM)  has also received the Kenneth Hudson Special Award.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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