Tallinn Museums (Self Guided), Tallinn

Tallinn is home to several of Europe's most interesting and impressive museums. The museums specialize in everything, from history and art to old-fashioned dolls, photo cameras, musical instruments, and sea mines. Take a journey through Tallinn's museums and explore the history and culture of this great city.
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Tallinn Museums Map

Guide Name: Tallinn Museums
Guide Location: Estonia » Tallinn (See other walking tours in Tallinn)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Estonian Theatre and Music Museum
  • Adamson-Eric Museum
  • The Museum of Photography
  • Raeapteek
  • Dominican Monastery Museum
  • Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum)
  • Estonian Museum of Applied Art & Design
  • The Estonian Museum of Natural History (Loodusmuuseum)
  • Estonian Maritime Museum (Eesti Meremuuseum)
  • Museum of Estonian Architecture (Arhitektuurimuuseum)
Estonian Theatre and Music Museum

1) Estonian Theatre and Music Museum

The Estonian Theatre and Music Museum is a very popular location in Tallinn. The institution was started in 1924, and was designed to become a permanent home for the collected works of Peeter Suda. Suda’s materials included original folk songs, notes, and a very special musical library. The place was founded by renowned artist August Pulst.

Since 1934, it has been located in the old medieval tower of Assauwe, as well as the surrounding building. The museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and educating people about Estonian theatre and music. The works of many famous European Composers can be found here. An important addition to this museum is the apartment displays of Andres Sarev. The four room apartment used to be the home of Andres and his wife Anna.

Every year, the museum gives out an award to some deserving Estonian musicians. It is based on the gifts left to the institution by Heino Eller. Eller was a pioneer in the country of symphonic music and chamber orchestras.

The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Adamson-Eric Museum

2) Adamson-Eric Museum

The Adamson Eric Museum is a small part of the Art Museum of Estonia, and is located in a beautiful, ancient, 16th Century building in the Old Town section of Tallinn.

Adamson-Eric, who was born Erich Carl Hugo Adamson, is a very famous Estonian artist who worked mainly in paintings. He studied under the likes of Guerin, Bissiere and Lhote. In 1925, he entered the private academy of Vassili Shuhhayev and concentrated his efforts on art deco and Neue Sachlichkeit. In 1928, he opened an art exhibit in Tallinn. His works are now on permanent display at the museum.

The location is on the small size, as far as museums of art go, and that is why it is part of the larger art institution in town. Having said that, the art that is on display here is quite good. You can really get to see some fine ceramics and leather works from the artist. Adamson is one of the most famous artists in the country’s history, and you won’t get to see a better exhibit of his works than here.

The location is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. It is closed on Monday and Tuesday and most major holidays.
The Museum of Photography

3) The Museum of Photography

The Museum of Photography is located just behind Town Hall in Tallinn, on Raekoja Street. The location, that houses the displays, used to be the Town Council’s jail house. Now, the place is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Estonian photography from the period of 1840 until 1940. It also happens to be a branch of the Tallinn City Museum. Among the eight total museums in town, it is also one of the most popular.

There are some wonderful old historic photographs to be viewed here, as well as some rare items like daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and ferrotypes. A visitor to the location can also get a pretty good education on the history and development of photographs and cameras, as well as the darkroom equipment used to develop photos. The tools used at the turn of the 20th Century are quite different than the modern digital imaging of today.

You can see the works of famous artists like Borchardt and Parikas here. Some of the photos are award winners. In addition, you’ll get to tour the historic camera collection, which is quite impressive. A toy camera is also on display here.

Opening Hours:
October - April: Mon, Fri, Sat 10 am-5pm;
May - September: Mon-Fri 11 am - 6 pm.
Closed: Tuesdays and public holidays.

4) Raeapteek

The Raeapteek (Town Hall Pharmacy) is in the center of Tallinn. Opposite the Town Hall, at house number 11, it is one of the oldest continuously running pharmacies in Europe, having always been in business in the same exact house since the early 15th century. It is also the oldest commercial enterprise and the oldest medical establishment in Tallinn. The first known image of the Town-Hall Pharmacy is an oil-painting by Oldekop, showing Tallinn's Town Hall Square in 1800. The first photos of the building date from 1889. Near the modern pharmacy on the first floor there is a small museum displaying old medical instruments, historical chemist tools and other curiosities. Set in wall, the museum also contains a large stone Coat of arms of the Burchart family dating from 1635. It shows a griffin with a crown and underneath a rose between lilies. On the second floor, there is a pillar on which a stonemason has carved the date 1663 together with Burchart's coat of arms.

Hours: Monday–Saturday: 10:00 - 18:00
Dominican Monastery Museum

5) Dominican Monastery Museum

The Dominican Monastery Museum is one of the most famous religious institutions in Tallinn, because this old home to the famous order has played an important role in the history of the city. The Dominicans held a great bit of power and influence here until 1525, when a group of anti-Catholic rioters ransacked the old Monastery.

Later, the site was used as one of the first schools in town, as well as a hospital. The military also made use of the old building until the 1800s, when a new church was erected on the grounds of the old Monastery. Some of the remaining rooms now house the museum.

There is an extensive collection of medieval and Renaissance art and artifacts to be seen in the museum. You will especially want to check out the stone carvings, particularly those on some of the old tombstones. The relief of the angel, set in a triangle, is also quite stunning and was designed by Arendt Passer. He was a famous stone mason who did other work in the area, like the Pontus de la Gardie in the famous Tallinn Cathedral.

Just to the south of the monastery lies a narrow alley that is known as Catherine’s Passage. The wall here was from the original Monastery. There is a series of craft shops where you can watch artisans still at work, just as in the days gone by.

The museum is open to the public from mid-May to mid-Sept daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and at other times by prior arrangement. The price of admission is 90 EEK.
Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum)

6) Tallinn City Museum (Tallinna Linnamuuseum) (must see)

The Tallinn City Museum is a parent organization for nine different museums across the city of Tallinn, Estonia. The main campus is located in the central portion of the Old Town. Besides the main campus, there are the following group of museums in the whole complex: Kiek in de Kok and Bastion Passages, the Photo Museum, Emperor Peter I House Museum, St. John’s Almshouse, A.H. Tammsaare Museum, the Eduard Vidle House, the Children’s Museum of Tallinn, and finally the Miia-Milla-Manda Children’s Museum

The main campus is housed in a building that dates all the way back to the 1300’s. It is a good representation of what dwellings were like in the Medieval days, which its lancet arched portal and double windows display so well. The building was owned by many famous merchants and politicians over the years. In 1963, the location was changed into the main campus for the Tallinn City Museum. Renovations were completed in 2000.

The permanent collections on display here are designed to give the viewer a good history of the old city, beginning with the conception of the town and ending with the Independence movement for the country of Estonia in 1991. In 2003 the Tallinn City Museum was nominated for European Museum of the Year Award.

There is a small café located in the museum, and a gift shop, where you can stop and have a bite to eat after visiting the main campus. (1 October – 30 April)Tue: 10.00–20.00; Wed–Sat: 10.00–17.00; Sun: 10.00–16.00;(1 May – 30 September) Mon–Sun: 10.00–18.00.
Estonian Museum of Applied Art & Design

7) Estonian Museum of Applied Art & Design

Estonian Museum of Applied Art & Design is located in a 17th century storehouse. The large collection includes over 15.000 textiles, ceramics, porcelain, leather, glass, jewellery, metalwork, furniture and many more.

Hours: Wed-Sun 11.00-18.00
The Estonian Museum of Natural History (Loodusmuuseum)

8) The Estonian Museum of Natural History (Loodusmuuseum)

The location has been designed to make the viewer aware of the abundance of plant and animal life in the Tallinn area. So, they have literally stuffed three stories of the building with taxidermy of every kind of animal from the area, as well as dried specimens of the most popular plant life. The largest single fish ever caught in the Baltic is also on display here, and is the mascot of the museum.

The museum was founded in 1841 by a group of naturalists who belonged to the Estonian Literary Soceity. In 1864, it was renamed the Provincial Museum. The People’s Commissars of the Estonia SSR officially started the museum and gave the first money. Eerik-Madis Kumari was the first staff member and acting director. The institution managed to amass close to 100,000 geological, botanical, and zoological specimens through the years. Sadly, the museum was damaged by bombing in 1942. It was restarted after the war, but was limited in its ability to display the true history of Estonia by Communist law. After Estonia gained independence in 1991, the museum was again upgraded.

The museum is open on Tue, Wed 10:00-17:00; Thu 10:00-19:00; Fri, Sat, Sun 10:00-17:00.
Estonian Maritime Museum (Eesti Meremuuseum)

9) Estonian Maritime Museum (Eesti Meremuuseum) (must see)

The Estonian Maritime Museum is a very popular tourist attraction in Tallinn. It has been built inside a very historic tower that is called the Fat Margaret by the locals. The institution puts on display the history of the ships of Estonia, as well as related information on what sea life was like on the Baltic. The location extended down to Seaplane Harbour where there are nine old ships on display.

The Fat Margaret tower itself was built from 1511 to 1530, during the reconstruction of the medieval city gate system. The name of the structure derives from the fact that it was built to show off how impressively the fortifications and walls of the city were constructed. The structure is very thick here. It was also a defensive location for the city. If you add in the Great Coastal Gates towers, you have the three tiered defense structure for the coastal defense of the town. During its history, though, it also served as a place to store gun powder, as well as also being used as a prison for a bit. It was taken out of commission in 1917, during the Communist Revolution.

On the inside, there are old tools on display here, as well as other Maritime objects. Some of the old objects here were original bone tools made before the time of Christ. So, you will not want to miss them.
Museum of Estonian Architecture (Arhitektuurimuuseum)

10) Museum of Estonian Architecture (Arhitektuurimuuseum)

One of the more eclectic places to visit in Tallinn has to be the Museum of Estonian Architecture. It is quite fascinating. The institution is located in the Old city, inside Rotermann’s Salt Storage building. It is near Tallinn harbor. The purpose of the museum is to collect, preserve, and exhibit the architecture of the city. Most of the materials are from the 20th century, but you will see some fine examples from the previous century as well

There is a wonderful collection of old city maps here, as well as other architectural drawings and projects. They have also managed to preserve some old models of city buildings. It’s an architect’s dream.

The building that houses the museum is also quite beautiful, from an architectural point of view. It is made from local limestone, and was designed by the famous architect Ernst Boustedt. The location was completed in 1908. Reconstruction was done in 1995, to get the museum up to ship shape again, as maintenance suffered during the Soviet era of government.

Have a look at all the Art Nouveau and Art deco objects here, as they constitute the core of the collection. Most of the collection is from the 1920s and 1920s. Also post-war architecture of the 1940s and 50s is relatively well represented.

The museum is open to the general public from 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. from Tuesday through Sunday. It is closed on Tuesdays.

Walking Tours in Tallinn, Estonia

Create Your Own Walk in Tallinn

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Creating your own self-guided walk in Tallinn is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Tallinn's Latin Quarter

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.6 Km or 0.4 Miles
Tallinn Medieval Old Town

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Tallinn Old Towers and Gates

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East Tallinn

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Tallinn's Monuments

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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