Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Lacy Days and Busy Nights - at Estonian Museums

I had a date set up with my friend Signe for the Saturday after I arrived. We planned to go together to Haapsalu and visit the Haapsalu Lace Center/Haapsalu Shawl Museum. We started out early enough so that we could stop at another small museum just a little bit off our route - Harjumaa Museum in Keila. There was an exhibit of national costumes including costumes from Signe's parish.

Signe at Harjumaa Museum

In Haapsalu, we met with Aime Edasi, co-author with Siiri Reimann of books on Haapsalu lace. We belatedly celebrated Aime's birthday with a treat of black bread and ramps (edited from rampion to ramps) spread as well as a festive torte! I'd never had rampion spread before but it was green and had a nice fresh, springy flavor. The torte, of course, was delicious!

Aimee Edasi with me and some lace swatches

The lace center has many sample swatches of lace patterns displayed on the walls, garments made of lace or incorporating lace, and a shop selling lace shawls in many colors although white is the traditional color for shawls. Shawls are packaged in boxes and displayed very nicely. Most of the shawls are priced at €105-110.

After coffee, eating, chatting, and knitting, as well as viewing all of the lace on display, Signe and I took a walk to and along the seaside and then headed back towards Tallinn. On the way back we stopped at the Ants Laikma Museum before it closed at 5:00 pm (check their website for current closing times). Ants Laikma was a painter/artist who built an unusual house outside of Haapsalu. The house was built in a "folk-romantic" style.

Apparently that wasn't enough for one day, because it turned out that I was lucky enough to be in Tallinn for the annual Night of Museums (Muuseumiöö). It took place from 6 to 11 pm on May 19, 2018. Many museums have free access and also special programs on this special night. I had looked over the website ahead of time and had chosen some specific events for which I was able to make reservations. At 8 pm, I took an hour-long English tour of the Tallinn Museum of Orders of Knighthood. My Estonian guide was the museum's curator who lives in Finland. Of course, the Order of the Golden Fleece was one of my favorites!

Order of the Golden Fleece

I visited the Carved Stone museum which is located underground with access just down from the Freedom Monument. I also had time for the Tallinn Art Hall (located on Freedom Square) which had an art exhibit that I viewed.

Then it was time for my next reservation - a 10 pm concert at the NUKU Museum. The NUKU is a puppet theater and although the concert was not in English, I figured that I could appreciate music and puppets in any language. Some of it was rather avant-garde but my favorite part was when three singers sang from windows above a courtyard where we, the concert-attendees, were seated. The singers were accompanied by an electric guitar.

I made it home before midnight, but it was a very full (and fun) day!

If this is your first visit to Tallinn, I would recommend some of the following museums and buildings, which I have seen on other visits: Estonian History Museum (this would be my top pick!), Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, Rocca Al Mare Open Air Museum, Kumu Art Museum, Town Hall, and the Song Festival Amphitheatre. On my list for this year is the Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom.


  1. Thank you Mary for your story. We, my husband and I, will visit Estonia in June of July. So I will definitely make a list of all the museums you mentioned!