Published 10/03/2023 | 11:52

A new lift in the Niguliste Museum will now take you up to the skydeck in the historical tower

View from the Niguliste tower. Art Museum of Estonia

The new glass lift and skydeck in the Niguliste Museum branch of the Art Museum of Estonia will open in the historical church tower on 11 March. After almost a year of reconstruction work, visitors can now explore the medieval church tower for the first time. A lift now leads to the skydeck and provides a unique view of the entire horizon, including the city of Tallinn and Tallinn Bay.

In the course of the reconstruction work, changes were also made to the museum’s permanent exposition. As an innovation, a new exhibition space, or gallery, will be open on the second floor of the Small Chapel.

The lift and the skydeck, completed during extensive construction work, are unique in Estonia, as people with special needs have also been taken into account, and anyone who wants can take the lift to the top of the tower. The old staircases will also be open to visitors, where as people ascend they can discover the architecture of the medieval tower and an exhibition dedicated to the church bells.

According to Sirje Helme, the Director-General, the Art Museum of Estonia’s major project, which includes the renovation of the Niguliste tower and the construction of a lift, an additional floor for the Small Chapel, the refurbishing of the building’s exterior and the installation of new technical systems, got its start from the idea of being able to take a lift to the top of the tower and look down on the city. “This idea grew into a large-scale renovation project because the condition of the tower was more problematic than anyone could have anticipated. As is always the case with historic buildings, many situations arose during the renovation that required quick responses and smart solutions. The construction process was comprised of a series of pleasant and unpleasant surprises. However, the result is excellent. We now have an improved and well-functioning building that provides a modern and safe home for Estonia’s most precious collection of medieval art,” said Helme.

The financial resources of the Art Museum of Estonia have been used to carry out the renovation and development work at the Niguliste Museum. The architectural solution, the lift and skydeck were designed by KOKO architects, and the construction work was completed by OÜ Tarrest LT.

In the new exhibition space on the second floor of the Small Chapel the Art Museum of Estonia’s collection of medieval wooden sculptures and retables will be exhibited. Historically, the congregation’s balconies, which were destroyed in World War II, were located in the Small Chapel. The surviving structural openings of the balconies were used to create the new gallery. The architectural design for the Small Chapel was completed in collaboration with Liis Lindvere and Silvia Ränna at KOKO architects.

In the course of the renovation work, the accessibility of the Niguliste Museum for people with special needs has been significantly improved. In addition to the glass lift, which provides visitors access to all the floors of the tower, guide-ways for the visually impaired have been installed, and a tactile floor plan has been created to help visitors more easily orient themselves in the space. “Both children and adults will have access to a large-scale tactile model of St. Nicholas Church, which will help them understand the building better. Visitors can also listen to an Estonian-language description of the Lübeck master Bernt Notke’s Dance of Death, the Niguliste Museum’s most prized work of art. The dialogue conducted by Death and the other characters, which is displayed on the scroll at the bottom of the painting, has been translated into five languages. With these innovations, we wish to provide all museum lovers with inclusive experiences,” said Tarmo Saaret, Director of the Niguliste Museum.

The team that worked on the updated permanent exhibition included Merike Kurisoo, Kerttu Palginõmm, Villu Plink and Tarmo Saaret.