The The University of Tartu Art Museum’s icon collection developed in the 1970–1980s as a result of state donations and it consists of iconography from the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century.

The icon collection is versatile, reflecting the most typical characteristics of late Russian iconography: following the canon of the old masters, showing simplistic peasant life, the high-standard workshops of the big cities and the influences of Western European art.

The collection includes small wooden icons and soldier icons, as well as metal travel icons and some crosses.

The collection includes mostly icons of Saint Nicholas and chosen saints, Christ Pantocrator and the Mother of God from different Russian cities. The rarest items are John the Baptist as an Angel of the Desert, some icons based on the Old Testament, and the early miracles of Christ.