Past Exhibitions

Dissecting a painting. Portrait of G. F. Parrot

05.07.-03.09.2017, open 10-18, closed on Mondays, in the Old Anatomical Theatre, Lossi 38.

This exhibition in the Old Anatomical Theatre will, for the first time, display the portrait of the famous rector and professor of the University of Tartu, Georg Friedrich Parrot. The location of the portrait, painted by Franz Gerhard von Kügelgen, was unknown until 2016 when it was found by complete chance in the USA.

Other paintings by Kügelgen belonging to the University of Tartu, such as portraits of Goethe, Herder and Wieland, will also be exhibited.  The exhibition looks at the portraits’s provenance, as well as the conservation process, and the research project launched in 2017 which aims to compare pigments and other technical details of the painting.

This exhibiton celebrates the 250th anniversary of Georg Friedrich Parrot.


Varudi-Vanaküla Treasure Trove

From March 1st to May 31st 2017

Curated by Mauri Kiudsoo (Tallinn University Archaeological Research Collection)

At this exhibition, we will display one of the largest and most exciting treasure troves found in Estonia recently. It consists mainly of Roman coins.

Treasure troves usually get a lot of attention when they are uncovered. However, it is not widely discussed what researchers do with the findings before the items are displayed or sent to a repository. This exhibition will explore the various aspects of working with a treasure trove and explain what a conservator does with the coins. We will also discuss whether finding a treasure trove is a lucky chance or a conscious effort, who owns it and whether the findings can change history.

March was the first month of the year according to the first calendar of ancient Rome. This is why the University of Tartu Art Museum will focus on introducing new discoveries and findings about ancient cultures in Estonia in March.


Otto Friedrich von Richter’s (1791–1816) trips and collection

May 26, 2016 - May 13, 2017

The annual exhibition of University of Tartu Art Museum focuses on Ancient Egypt telling the story of the arrival of two unique human mummies at the museum. Europe’s  expanding interest in Egypt at the end of the 18th century is also being observed.

The Egyptian mummies, unique in the Baltic countries and Finland reached the collections of Tartu University at the beginning of the 19th century as the heritage of Otto Friedrich von Richter (1791–1816), a Baltic-German orientalist and pilgrim.

Otto Friedrich von Richter was born in 1791 as the son of district magistrate Otto Magnus Johann von Richter in the manor of Vastse-Kuuste in Tartu county.

His private teacher was the later Rector of Tartu University Gustav Ewers who aroused young Richter’s interest in antiquities. At first Richter studied classical philology and Oriental studies  in Moscow and later several places in West-Europe. In 1814 he went on an expedition to Turkey and in 1815 together with a Swede Sven Fredrik Lindman to Egypt and Nubia.

Unfortunately, Otto Friedrich von Richter fell ill on his journey and died in Smyrna (today: Izmir in Turkey). His manuscripts and collection of Egiptian artefacts were presented to Tartu University by his father to encourage young people to continue his venture. Most of Richter’s collections of antiquities are now in Voronezh, Russia, where they were  evacuated due to World War I in 1915. University of Tartu Art Museum has still Egyptian mummies and in the library of the university several manuscripts in Arabic, Persian and Turkish and publications collected by Richter can be found.

One can make a mental journey in Egypt together with Richter and see his collection – mummies, manuscripts and drawings in Estonia.


The Human and Divine World of Icons

January, 28 2015 - October, 30 2015


Icons, i.e., holy pictures have an important role as carriers of the Orthodox identity, keeping the holy traditions alive and acting as the mediators between God and mankind. The aim of this exhibition is to provide an introduction of icons as an Orthodox Christian tradition and inseparable part of people’s lives.

Using vibrant colours and symbols, the rich iconography of the Eastern Church has documented its Christian religious dogmas, the divine world that people believe in and its morals. According to the Orthodox Christian tradition, an icon is a bridge between Earth and Heaven. Via this bridge people’s prayers can reach God, mediated by the saints or other guardians on the icons. Any changes or miracles that happen after this invocation for help are interpreted as divine care. Icons are tremendously important for Orthodox Christians in view of their domestic religious lives, and accompany them from birth to death.

The exhibited icon collection of the University of Tartu Art Museum mostly contains icons that were used in people’s homes in the Russian Empire from 18th to 20th century.

Curator: Külli Valk

Design: Maarja Roosi, Külli Valk

Exibition tehnician: Arvi Kuld

Editor: Anu Lepp, Scriba

Translators: Jaana Savolainen, Irina Rudik

Consultant: Andreas Kalkun




Personal exhibition of Estonian glass artist Ivo Lill 

28 November 2015 - 29 February 2016

The  “Memory Code“ series reflects fragments of patterns of Estonian folk costumes and its belt design. Since glass is three-dimensional, different memory patterns appear when you turn the piece or change the angle.  At one point, the ornament is boldly coiled, then  again so taut that it is about to break. Continue to turn it and the pattern fades entirely, only to  appear once more and fill the entire surface. 

The patterns of folk costume are like memory codes of our  people’s history, where their courageousness and misery are stored.  But only insiders can read and understand these secret “texts“. Such pictorial means of expression are like crypto-grams that are protected from the evil eye – strangers can only see the innocent decorative ornament and nothing more…