(Tartu City Museum, Tartu, Estonia)



Tartu (Dorpat) was an important centre during the medieval period and a member of the Hanseatic League. Due to massive destruction during the later periods (most notably during the Northern War in 1708), there are only a few objects of medieval origin still visible. The question how to present the medieval heritage, which has become an important part of the image of the city, is addressed.


to give an overview of the present attempts in the field

to evaluate these, especially the possible reasons of attractiveness

to reflect on the role of a city museum


Comparative analysis


Four main methods have been used:

1)Reconstructions and marking in situ. This has been used at the town wall, and at one of the main streets (Rüütli / Küüni).

2)Exhibitions of archaeological material. The main form of communication of the museum for the last 25 years

3)3D-reconstructions. A 3D-model for the use in the museum exhibition has been in use since 2000.

4)New enterprises attracting the public by presenting certain trades “in the old way”. The best examples include a historic barge, Jõmmu, operating at River Emajõgi (built and operated by a non-profit organisation), and a guild of St. Anthony of currently active handicraftspersons, who include some of the medieval techniques in their activities.

Aims and conclusions

As the museum is currently generating ideas and searching funding for a new conception of exhibition for town history, the current attempts to present the medieval period need to be reflected.

Two approaches aimed at reaching the public:

“Less static” museum (temporary exhibitions outside the museum building, guided tours where museum specialist use their expertise to explain the recent reconstructions, etc.)

A more modern permanent exhibition (with usage of 3D and hands-on activities)


museum, heritage, presentation, public interest