Museum Laboratory

Image: Meeli Küttim

The Museum Laboratory is a new experimental exhibition of the Tallinn Russian Museum created in the framework of MeM project together with the Estonian team of art mediators.


At the heart of the exhibition lie the stories of people, Estonian Russians. The project invites the audience to think about the issues of identity and diversity, the concept of home, and the sense of belonging. The museum takes on the role of an intercultural mediator that values collaborative creativity, empathy, and understanding. The audience plays a vital role in the exhibition – they bring their stories and experiences to the museum, forming the content of the Museum Laboratory.


The Museum Laboratory consists of installations, a series of talks with famous people who identify themselves as Estonian Russians, and an art project by Tanja Muravskaja.


💫 Installation “Identity” (curated by Jaanika Jaanits, Center for Applied Anthropology) contemplates the diversity of identities and encourages people to reflect on their own identities, roles, and connections.


“Statistics and history” (curated by historian Olev Liivik in collaboration with Hiljar Tammela) aims to show and comprehend the stories of the Russian-speaking people in Estonia, as well as the processes and connections in the society through the lens of history and statistics.


“Everyday life in the kitchen of the panel house” (curated by sociologist Alina Jašina-Schäfer) explores the everyday life of people. The kitchen is seen as an open space for communication, personal stories, emotions, and experiences of life in Estonia.


💫 «Kitchen talks» is a series of meetings with renowned people who identify as Estonian Russians. They come to have conversations with the audience in an informal setting and share their thoughts and experiences related to identity, feeling of home, and finding their place in the world. So far, 4 meetings took place. Alexander Kuchmezov (actor of the Russian Theatre in Tallinn), Andrey Titov (TV and radio presenter, journalist), Igor Kotyukh (translator, publisher, writer), and Anna Levandi (figure skater, coach) participated as guests. The team of art mediators also took part in the meetings.


💫 The exhibition “Hingelähedane sõna” (РУС. “Родное слово”, ENG.”The Vernacular”) opened in Tallinn on the 12th of January, 2022. It is a result of the collaboration between the artist Tanja Muravskaja, the Estonian team of mediators, representatives of the community, and the Tallinn Russian Museum.


“The Vernacular” is an atlas of the words that are dear to Estonian Russian-speaking people. These words reflect processes that took place in the past and are still happening in Estonian society. It is a unique imprint of time and culture that is inscribed in the native language of the ethnic Russian community in Estonia. The exhibition shows language and vocabulary as the most iconic expression of the identity of Estonia’s ethnic Russians. The exhibition consists of Muravskaja’s installation based on the words and stories assosiated with them, and a collection of artworks curated by Tanja. For the latter part, Muravskaja chose the works of the artists that have very close connections with Estonia: Alexey Gordin, Kuzja Zverev, Ilya Kabakov, Sandra Kosorotova, Raul Meel, Boriss Uvarov, and Evi Pärn.


Art mediators and their involvement


Estonian art mediators have been involved in the art project. They met with the artist Tanja Muravskaja in the spring-summer of 2021 to discuss the upcoming exhibition. They actively participated in the process of collecting the words and stories around them. Due to the efforts of the art mediators and employees of the Tallinn Russian Museum, 150 unique words were collected, reflecting the cultural, national, and linguistic diversity of Estonia.


The work of the art mediators does not end there: it will continue in the form of mediation series around the exhibition. Each mediator will come up with their unique route, and a way to mediate the experience for the audience.