About the history of the TTÜ museum
The history of the TTÜ museum begins on the 22nd March 1971, when the TTÜ (Tallinn Polytechnic Institute - TPI at that time) rector’s administrative order “to set up a scientific council of the TPI museum” was issued. The museum was opened in 1971 in Lai street, Tallinn - in the same building which accommodated the TTÜ library of textbooks. The activities of the museum were carried out under the leadership of Aime Roose, the head of the museum, and in 1973 the first exhibition was held in the corridor of the Mustamäe library building. Photographs and documents from the history of the TPI were exhibited: the exposition was commissioned to the Art Factory ARS, and it was completed by the 50th anniversary of TPI. In October 1986 an exhibition was opened in the museum building, and the total area for that was 92 square meters, but only a 16 square meter room was at the museum's disposal for its main collection storage. There was no advertising or marketing done for the museum at that time.
In 1993 the building of the museum was returned to the former owner as a result of the ownership reform, and the collections were moved to a 3-roomed apartment in Raja Street, where the museum operated for several years. Throughout this period, under the collections manager Peep Sillaots’s supervision, the museum assets considerably grew and reached nearly 19,000 artefacts, of which more than 11000 were photos from the Tsarist period. Unfortunately, the museum fell into decline due to poor operating conditions, and the history of cultural heritage of TTÜ was kept in crates and boxes over the next eight years.
To mark the 90th anniversary of TTÜ a new building for the library was completed in 2008, which was also designed to house a bookstore and a Swedbank branch office on its first floor. However, since the recession had started, the intentions of both institutions changed, and the spaces were left unoccupied. TTÜ library suggested the idea to revive the museum, although with an original concept to showcase the artefacts of the museum only in one room.
Today there are 350 m2 of exhibition spaces, an exhibition hall and a gallery of 43 m2 repositories at the museum's disposal, which, however, is definitely too limited space. It provides an opportunity to store smaller artefacts, as there are special drawers and shelves provided for them, but larger items, such as the restored model of Tallinn Song Stage speaker display, have to be stored in a temporary location.
One of the today's goals of TTÜ museum is to increase the number of next generation engineers. Liia Rebane, who has served as a director of the museum since 2009, has contributed a lot to achieving that goal. The chief curator of the museum Ave Tarvas is in charge of the museum collections and has comprehensive information about the assets. Curator Mari Luukas is curating exhibitions and making educational programs.
The first exhibition of the revived TTÜ museum "Volcano - creator and destroyer" was opened in the gallery Futurum in 2010, and was a great success: it was given the Estonian Museum of the Year Award – the “Museum Rat”. The dramatic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland had acted as a catalyst for opening the exhibition. The exhibition reflected the history and the present of volcanoes, and introduced the types of rocks formed as a result of volcanic eruptions.
The second section of the museum was opened in December 2011. The exhibition called "Mechanics", which was opened in 2013 and can be visited until the end of October 2013, became the first major event in the Big Hall. The exposition displays the history of TTÜ Faculty of Mechanics, gives a good overview of the activities of the Faculty, and is designed to be maximum interactive. There are a lot of hands-on exhibits, for instance the visitors can play crisscross with robots.
The second exhibition in the gallery Futurum "Metamorphoses - insectsinsectsinsects" was another success. The exhibition had a clear aim to demonstrate how the insects have inspired the development of engineering, and how the communication between different industries is carried out. Artists were also involved in the exhibition of insects: visitors could see a social-psychological video "Jaanika" by Jaan Toomik, and Pohjakonna Finland OY performed a short film "The Death of an Insect", which had attracted attention at Black Nights Film Festival PÖFF a year ago. The exhibition earned a nomination for a title of Museum Rat 2012.
The annual series of events of the Museum Night (held every year in May) should also be mentioned as a tradition of the museum, as the events in Nõmme-Mustamäe area are co-ordinated by TTÜ museum in co-operation with its partners – TTÜ Institute of Geology, TTÜ Department of Mining, TTÜ Faculty of Power Engineering, Tallinn Observatory, Glehn Castle and Nõmme museum. There were more than 2000 visitors-museum friends, who participated in the last year’s Museum Night events held both in the museums of Nõmme and Mustamäe area, and also the institutions of Tallinn University of Technology, which clearly indicates a very strong need for cultural events in the region.