The archives of the Art Museum of Estonia consist of the documents archive and the archived collection. In the documents archive, we preserve documents that record the activities and history of the art museum since 1919. As a large part of the museum’s archive was destroyed during the bombing on 9 March 1944, the number of older documents is relatively small. There are a few documents dealing with the foundation of the museum, some materials related to art collection, and communication between the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Fine Arts Endowment. The documents archive also holds materials related to the renovation of the Kadriorg Palace and the construction of Kumu, a large number of manuscripts for presentations and lectures by museum employees, and nearly 950 exhibition passports. Exhibition passports started to be preserved in the archive in 1957; a passport contains a list of the works of art on display at the exhibition, information texts from the walls, press releases and other published materials, newspaper clippings, photos and other promotional materials (e.g. invitations, posters and booklets). One part of the documents archive is made up of the constantly supplemented photo archive, which contains images recording the operation, buildings and employees of the museum throughout various eras.
The archived collection was formed at the beginning of 2015 on the basis of the former collection of personal archives; it can also be found in the archives information system AIS. The archived collection of the art museum is comprised of 110 personal archives, primarily containing documents, letters, notebooks, sketches, newspaper clippings, drafts and manuscripts of artists and art historians. The largest are the personal archives of Eduard Wiiralt, Kristjan and Paul Raud, Herman Halliste, Ferdi Sannamees, Oskar Hoffmann, Johann Naha and Eduard Taska. Mari Adamson’s, as well as Voldemar and Valli Eller’s, personal archives and the archive of the Art History Section of the Institute of History are still waiting to be put in order. You can view the list of personal archives HERE. The archived collection additionally holds interviews with artists and art historians conducted and acquired for the collection by the conservation department of the art museum.
The archive of the Art Museum of Estonia is interested in cooperation with the public as regards the collection and preservation of documents, photos, letters and other material related to Estonian artists.
Contact information: the archive can be visited upon prior agreement on workdays, from 11 am to 5 pm. The archive is located in the Kumu building; researchers can use the work desk in the reading room of the library.