Estonian National Museum

Every country has its own national museum.

But, I guarantee you; no country has a national museum as unique as Estonia’s.

National Museum of Estonia: seen and believed, in that order

You have no idea about scale or perspective. What am I looking at? Good question!

See the building shrinking into the distance? That’s a distance of over 400 metres. See the height at the far right? It’s… Well, it’s pretty damn tall. Perhaps 4 storeys.

This is a national museum that is both hugely informative, and at the same time, hugely beautiful.

The grand opening took place in 2016, after the design being created by France based Dan Dorell, Lina Ghotmeh, and Tsuyoshi Tane.

I was smitten by this building ever since I first Googled it. The circumstances were almost too romantic; a 400+ metre long building, constructed on a former Soviet occupation-era military airbase runway, which gradually disappears into the ground!?

It sounded too good to be true, so off we were off to discover it.

It just so happened that the weekend we were in Tartu was one of the coldest of this winter (so far, at -18 degrees). It was not easy getting these external shots, despite the presence of the sun in some of them; the cold was still as low as -8 at 11:30am.

Arrival; 2018

We’re gonna just skip the interior

The Estonian National Museum is an incredible museum; we spent more than 4 hours there, and could have easily spent the day in order to see and appreciate it all. But we didn’t. And since this post is more about the design of the museum itself, let’s get on with more pictures!

Scale of the museum

I said that the museum building was a 400 metre-long building built on a Soviet-era runway, and I delivered:

Talk about thumbing your nose to your former occupiers; I LOVE it.


The museum is hard to put into perspective. It is massive at its opening, and yet, despite all the content contained within, it still literally disappears into the ground it is built upon.

That’s 400m of vanishing point right there

FFS; Just Enjoy It

North elevation (undesirable elements shamefully removed)
True southern elevation; doctored
East-south-eastern elevation and mirror effects like Enter The Dragon
More angles to play with
It’s really effing tall.

I’m proud to share these photos because the building itself is so damn amazing; I’m a fan of beautiful and inventive architecture, and this is an absolute prime example of it.

But what about Tartu?

Absolutely. Tartu is a startup slash university town; so during the coldest day of winter, it was a bit empty. But, here are a couple of images that stuck with me:

Main square; old town: probably a lot busier during summer
Can YOU possibly spot the Soviet-era architecture, and why it was shit?

The Leaning House of Tartu, which people also call the Pisa Tower of Tartu, was built next to the medieval city wall in 1793. The side of the house that faces the river is supported by the old city wall and the other side by poles. This is the reason why the house is leaning sideways.

I have little doubt that Tartu would absolutely be teeming with life during summer. We will return then.


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