The University of Tartu Art Museum’s sculpture collection consists of 470 sculptures and is the result of 200 years of collecting.
The collection was initiated by the Museum’s first Director J. K. S. Morgenstern. Up to the middle of the 19th century, the Museum collected only artwork that was available, affordable and relevant from a teaching perspective. Since sculptures were expensive and their transportation difficult, Morgenstern limited the collection to economically purchased and gifted casts, which are identical plaster mould copies of original sculptures.
In 1858, the University inspected the Art Museum’s principles of replenishment and decided to focus only on antique art, which was the main field of study of art in those days. The premise for this was the development of classical archaeology, excavations and new findings. The plaster cast copies of the best antique sculptures were used as a teaching collection, which helped illustrate lectures. This was also the reason for the creation of the University of Tartu Art Museum’s collection, which was actively replenished up to 1918.
In the 1930s, a number of casts from Raadi manor, donated by the Liphart family, were added to the collection.
The collection also includes a few works by Estonian sculptors (A. Starkopf, J. Koort, Ü. Õun, E. Taniloo, A. Seppet, etc.).