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The ‘Museum Rat’ prizes for 2018: the winner of the best permanent exhibition is the Estonian History Museum and the best exhibition was organised by the Art Museum of Estonia

28. January 2019 - 0:00
Muuseumirott 2018 laureaadid. Foto Andrei Ozdoba
Muuseumirott 2018 laureaadid. Foto Andrei Ozdoba

The Museum Council of the Ministry of Culture recognised the exposition entitled My Free Country of the Estonian History Museum as the best permanent exhibition of 2018. The Estonian Annual Museum Award 2018 for the best temporary exhibition went to the Art Museum of Estonia for the exibit Michel Sittow. Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe. A total of ten ‘Museum Rat’ prizes, along with the ‘Rat Trap’ prize for the most visitor-friendly museum, awarded by Visit Estonia, Enterprise Estonia’s tourism development centre, were presented at the gala held in the Maarjamäe Castle grounds of the Estonian History Museum.

A total of 113 proposals were submitted to the competition for the Estonian Annual Museum Awards, from which the Museum Council’s evaluation committee selected 27 nominees from 14 museums. As in the previous years, the exhibitions, education and publications categories attracted the most competitors.

“The Republic of Estonia’s centenary year was particularly busy one for Estonia’s museums. This year, with many exhibitions and other events organised both at home and abroad, the bar was set unusually high,” said Minister of Culture Indrek Saar. “The museums as the guardians of our cultural heritage help to connect our rich heritage with the present and to consider our identity. Thus, in this jubilee year, thanks to the new permanent exhibition at the history museum, we have shed light on the stories related to our people’s lives, as well as the birth, loss and rebirth of our nation. With an extremely ambitious international exhibition, we have also introduced Michel Sittow, the Renaissance painter from Tallinn. The success and exceptional attention these projects have attracted speak for themselves – and is a great acknowledgement and confirmation of the fact that our museums are among the best in the world,” Saar added. 

“The Museum Rat prize is a wonderful acknowledgement of the Estonian History Museum and the large team that organised and advised the My Free Country exhibition. We are especially pleased that the exhibition dedicated to the centenary of the Republic of Estonia was awarded the most important prize on our museum landscape. The only thing more important is the appreciation of our visitors, because a museum full of people is what brings us joy and helps us move forward. Come to the museum!” said Inge Laurik-Tedre, Director of Development at the Estonian History Museum and one of the head curators of the prize-winning My Free Country exhibition.

The winners of the 2018 museum awards are:

The award for the Best Permanent Exhibition went to the Estonian History Museum for their exhibition My Free Country

Head curators Krista Sarv and Inge Laurik-Teder, project manager Laura Kipper. The My Free Country exhibition at the Estonian History Museum speaks about the lives of our people, their choices and reactions, participation in events or silence. About what gave us a country, took it away and let us take it back; 

The Award for the Best Temporary Exhibition of 2018 went to the Art Museum Estonia’s for exhibition Michel Sittow. Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe.

The exhibition called Michel Sittow. Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe, curated by Greta Koppel, introduced Michel Sittow, a painter from Estonia who was a highly regarded portraitist at the courts of Europe at the turn of the 16th century. At the initiative of the Art Museum of Europe, the artist’s first monographic exhibition was organised 500 years after his death. The exhibition brought together all of Sittow’s surviving works from several distinguished galleries around the world for the first time, and thereby enabled art lovers to congregate in the artist’s hometown of Tallinn; 

The Award for Best Conservation Work went to the Art Museum of Estonia’s project for the conservation by Alar Nurkse of Ivan Aivazovsky’s severely damaged painting called View of Mount Vesuvius a Day Before the Volcanic Eruption, the documentation of the work process, and its presentation at the exhibition called Aivazovsky. In Pursuit of the Ideal (curators Alar Nurkse, Aleksandra Murre) at the Kadriorg Art Museum;  

The title of Best Museum Collection Developer for 2018 went to stages 1 and 2 of the “Discover and Wonder” public depository project initiated by the Estonian Agricultural Museum.

The Discover and Wonder public depository of the Foundation for Estonian Rural Life Museums provides a survey of the changes that occurred in the everyday lives of rural residents from the early 19th to early 20th century. The project was executed by Kaarel Vissel;

The title of Best Promoter of Museum Education for 2018 went to a project called Let’s Make Art Visible! at the Art Museum of Estonia.

With its Let’s Make Art Visible! project, the Adamson-Eric Museum provides visually impaired and blind visitors the opportunity to become acquainted with Estonian art and to relate directly to the work of Adamson-Eric (1902-1968). The initiator of the project is Liisi Selg

The Best Scientific Publication in 2018 is Eesti spordi lugu (The Story of Estonian Sports) published by the Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum

Authors: Kalle Voolaid and Kaarel Antons. This is one of the most iconic book projects of all time in the field of sports. And issuing the book to mark Estonia’s centenary, the 95th anniversary of the Estonian Olympic Committee and the 55th anniversary of the Estonian Sports and Olympic Museum adds symbolic importance to its publication; 

The Best Scientific Event in 2018 was the international symposium called Stories of Michel Sittow’s Life and Art: Facts and Fables.

The international symposium organised by the Art Museum of Estonia, and conducted under the direction of Greta Koppel, accompanied the grand monographic exhibition about Michel Sittow, the Renaissance painter from Tallinn, which was organised by the Art Museum of Estonia;

The Säde Garden Party project organised by the Valga Museum was awarded the Friend of the Community title for 2018

The Säde Garden Party projected managed by Marju Rebane set out to revitalise a 100-year old tradition of a city garden party held in the Säde Park in Valga. The goal of the project was to introduce the urban cultural traditions of the early 20th century and the history of Valga to the local citizenry;

The title of Museum Developer for 2018 was awarded to the Määrjamäe History Centre of the Estonian History Museum

The past, present and future meet in the park of the more than 150-year-old summer manor of the Estonian History Museum’s Maarjamäe Palace by providing an enjoyable environment for visitors of all ages.  The project was executed by Laura KipperSirje KarisInge Laurik-TederRuth LaidveeKrista SarvMaria Mang and Kristi Paatsi;

The Special Museum Rat award for 2018 was given to Arno Sillat, the founder of the MOMU Motor Sport Museum

MOMU Motor Sport Museum is located in the former Ellamaa power station, which is a heritage site. In the course of installing the museum, the building has been preserved and presented well. Outstanding preservation conditions have been created for the valuable museum collection. 

The Rat Trap award for the most visitor friendly museum, which is awarded by Enterprise Estonia’s Visit Estonia tourism development centre, went to the Art Museum of Estonia

The award was presented in recognition of the years spent promoting Estonian cultural export, building a strong image for Estonia, and organising successful foreign exhibitions. ‘In the day-to-day work of tourism marketing, we often see how cultural interests can turn into real visitor numbers. The Art Museum of Estonia has taken top culture abroad for years and exposed people, who later become Estophiles, to what Estonia is about for the first time. Last year, the Art Museum of Estonia achieved one of the largest attendance records in its history when more than 330,000 people visited the museum’s exhibitions abroad,’ said Margus Sameli, Director of Enterprise Estonia’s Visit Estonia tourism development centre.  

The winner of each category in the Museum Rat competition for 2018 receives a monetary award in the amount of €1,300 from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, which the winners can to use to participate in The Best in Heritage Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, the Annual Conference of the European Museum Forum, a study trip to the museum that won the European Museum of the Year Award, or for a trip during the competition year to further their professional skills and knowledge.

All the winners receive small Museum Rat sculptures (created by sculptor Tiiu Kirsipuu). The large Museum Rats awarded for the Best Exhibition and the Best Permanent Exhibition are passed on to the new winners next year.

The awards are sponsored by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.


The photo gallery of the conference and award winners

Please credit the photographers. 


More information:

The Facebook page of the Estonian Museum Awards


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