Permanent Exhibition

The University of Tartu Art Museum introduces antique art

The University of Tartu Art Museum has the only antique art exhibition in Estonia.

The Museum’s permanent exhibition consists of sculptures – original size plaster cast copies of the greatest works from Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Greece. They were acquired in the 1860s from museums in England, Germany, France and Italy in order to promote the students’ interest in and knowledge of art, history and culture.

The backdrop of the exhibition is the ornamental Pompeian style murals on the walls of the halls. The Pompeian murals were painted in 1868 when the Museum moved into its current residence in the left wing of the University of Tartu Main Building. It is the oldest interior specially designed for a museum in Estonia. The basis for the Pompeian style murals were the 1827–1859 colourful lithography plates by Wilhelm Zahn, which were chosen in order to better exhibit the Museum’s white plaster moulds.

The Art Museum exhibits numerous original ancient objects: an Egyptian mummy, coins, vases, clay lamps and cuneiform tablets.

The rare deathmask of philosopher Immanuel Kant is also on display.

Chamber of Mummies

An interactive exhibition inspired by an Egyptian tomb - an addition to our permanent exhibition - where all the Art Museum’s real Egyptian mummies are on display.

The mummies are from the collection of one of Estonia’s first orientalists, Otto Friedrich von Richter (1791–1816). When Richter’s father gave the collection to the university, he wanted it to be available to young people and inspire them to discover and explore the world. 

The permanent exhibition enables to fulfil the University of Tartu Art Museum’s mission of introducing ancient cultures.