Restarting VEMU´s 2022 Online Cultural Program

February 21, 2022

As the world struggles with the new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, the Estonian Museum Canada (VEMU) opened it’s 2022 cultural program online, this being the current norm due to the pandemic.

On January 12th, Katariina Sofia Päts and Joosep Heinsalu, visiting students from the University of Tartu, held a lecture discussing current hot topics in higher education from a student’s perspective in Estonia.

A couple of weeks later on January 26th, VEMU’s refreshed image was launched via a seminar called Looks Matter: Branding a New Museum. VEMU undertook an exciting renewal process of its brand throughout 2021 in cooperation with partners from the Estonian design agency Velvet. The seminar presented the results and experiences gained from our joint collaborative efforts. In addition to introducing the new visual identity of VEMU, we discussed the topic in broader terms so that other organizations could gain new insights into the benefits of brand rejuvenation. Creative director Kristian Kirsfeldt and producer-sales strategist Ottomar Tamm of Velvet spoke at the seminar along with designer Jaan Kittask (Toronto), Ellen Valter from KESKUS (Toronto), and Piret Noorhani from VEMU. Sebastian Buccioni acted as moderator for the discussion.

January 30th featured the screening of an Estonian feature film Self Made Cameraman (“Johannes Pääsukese tõeline elu,” 2019) which was followed by a discussion with director Hardi Volmer. Johannes Pääsuke (1892- 1918) is well known to many Estonians. VEMU displayed a travelling exhibition of this pioneer of Estonian photography and film history at Tartu College in 2012 and we have also shown Pääsuke’s films made for the Estonian National Museum which recorded the everyday life of Estonians. An opportunity to learn about the author of these photos and films was presented through the movie “Self Made Cameraman”, which fictionally depicts Pääsuke’s 1913 film and photographic travels to Setomaa as a correspondent of the Estonian National Museum.

On February 12th, in cooperation with St. Peter’s Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Toronto, VEMU hosted a virtual conference celebrating 475 years of Estonian liturgical music as well as the 30th anniversary of their song and prayer book. The contribution of Estonians abroad to the Estonian liturgical canon was also discussed. Opening remarks were made by Rev. Mart Salumäe and Piret Noorhani, greetings were conveyed by Archbishop Urmas Viilma and former secretary of the EELK Songbook Committee Jaak Salumäe. Rev. Salumäe gave a quick review of the 475-year history of Estonian liturgical music. Bishop Tiit Salumäe gave an overview of the activities of the EELK Songbook Committee and the publication of songbooks in Estonia. Pastor Gustav Piir and Assessor Provost Marko Tiitus also spoke about the Songbook Committee with Tiitus touching upon the current state of compiling a new songbook in 2022. A recording from VEMU’s archives of Roman Toi’s presentation on the University of Tartu’s anniversary in 1995 was screened, where Dr Toi recalled how the songbook was compiled.

Dr Peeter Põldre gave the third lecture in his COVID-19 series, The Omicron Tsunami and Beyond, on February 16th. As in his previous lectures, Dr Põldre once again provided an excellent overview of the current state of the pandemic in Canada and globally. Whether his prophecies will come true will be revealed in the future.

The film screening planned for Sunday, February 27th, featuring Where the Heart Is (“Talve”, 2019) was cancelled due to the rally held at the same time in Toronto in support of Ukraine. It is the last chapter in a series of movies based on the beloved stories of Estonian author Oskar Luts. The year is 1942 and after the Reds retreat, the German regime has taken over Estonia. Despite the change of power, the Estonian people’s desires and spirit remain the same – they love, celebrate, quarrel and reconcile. The film was released exactly 50 years after the premiere of Spring (“Kevade”, 1969), giving the Luts saga a dignified and bright ending.