Estonian Cultural Heritage From Repository to Exhibition

July 20, 2016

This year the 7th BaltHerNet Summer School titled From Repository to Exhibition took place from July 4th-7th in Haapsalu, Estonia. 34 participants came together from 8 different countries from Estonian organizations, museums and archives located both in Estonia and abroad.

On the way to Haapsalu we stopped at the Ants Laikmaa House Museum, where the artist’s life and art were introduced. Among the summer school participants was Mai Raud-Pähn from Sweden, who remembered visiting Ants Laikmaa when she was a child in 1930. Upon arriving in Haapsalu the summer school program continued in the rooms of the vocational school. Tiina Kirss’ lecture, the BaltHerNet annual meeting and opening party all fit into the first day along with a documentary film program after dinner, which was focused on the theme of Estonians abroad.

The second day was filled with many interesting lectures about a variety of exhibitions in Estonia and abroad. Maie Barrow from Sydney, Australia, Vera Nikolajeva-Oinets from Siberia, Russia, Ain Dave Kiil from Alberta, Canada, and Piret Noorhani from Toronto, Canada all shared their experiences organizing Estonian themed exhibitions abroad. Many of the communities are not in as great a situation as the Toronto Estonians are in terms of resources for exhibitions. However, all of the speakers had interesting material to share with others. Lectures about archives and museums in Estonia were also presented by the some of the leading figures of these institutions. It was interesting to hear about the new buildings housing the National Archives and the Estonian National Museum. The lecture on the Occupations Museum and upcoming changes regarding its content and new name (Vabamu) created a lot of excitement and discussion. During the lunch break an exhibit from the Dance Festival Museum was put on display in the hallway. A discussion about Estonia 100 and celebrations taking place abroad followed the lectures. Many interesting ideas were proposed on how to celebrate such an important historical event. All are welcome to contribute and propose ideas, no matter how small or large.

At the end of the long and busy day we drove to the beach town, Nõva, to visit Marko Raat at his summer home. On the way, we stopped to see the wooden church in Nõva, which is one of the oldest and most unique churches of its kind. Filmmaker Marko screened a number of his creations in an old fishnet shed behind his summer home in Nõva. One of Marko’s more recently completed films is a documentary based on archival material collected in Canada titled Fast Eddy vanad uudised (“Fast Eddy’s Old News”).

The third day included a walk through the resort town with Haapsalu history expert, Kalev Jaago. We visited the ruins of the bishop’s castle, the cathedral and a number of museums. Haapsalu is very rich in this department; the most memorable museums were the Museum of Coastal Swedes, where there is an active handicraft circle, and the child-friendly museum Ilon’s Wonderland. This museum is based on the Estonian artist living in Sweden, Ilon Wikland and her creations. Ilon Wikland was raised in Haapsalu and has become known as the illustrator of Astrid Lindgren’s children’s books. The final evening ended with a spirited party with live music and singing.

We wish the organizers lots of strength and will be eagerly waiting for the next BaltHerNet Summer School next year.

Lea Kreinin