The 19th Century Citizen’s Museum is located in the old part of Tartu, in a unique neighbourhood where the buildings are among the oldest in the city. The wooden dwelling, completed in the 1740s, is one of the oldest to have survived in Tartu. Visitors find themselves in the home of a middle-class citizen in the 1830s. The living room, dining room, study and bedroom are furnished in the Biedermeier style characteristic of the period. In the cosy kitchen at the heart of the house are a number of utensils and a fully functional ‘English’ stove.

History of the building

The museum at 16 Jaani Street is housed in one of the oldest wooden dwellings in Tartu. The house, completed in 1744, has survived despite the major fires that wreaked havoc in the second half of the 18 th century and a post-fire order of 1775 to demolish all of the wooden buildings in the town centre.

Originally the dwelling consisted of one large and three small rooms and an attic. In the last decade of the 18 th century, a stone dwelling (now the older section of the neighbouring house at 18 Jaani Street) and outbuildings were erected on the same land. By 1828, the street-facing part of the wooden dwelling had been extended in the direction of the courtyard. The building has survived to this day mostly in this form; the museum displays the layout of the rooms from this period.

The land has had a number of owners, and the house has served as the dwelling of the principal of Tartu Town School, a master bricklayer, a master cabinet-maker, several merchants and others, as well as their families. Under Soviet occupation both dwellings were nationalised. The building at 16 Jaani Street was converted into communal flats and later used as a storehouse.

In 1989, the dwelling was placed at the disposal of Tartu City Museum, and after extensive restoration work the 19 th Century Tartu Citizen’s Museum opened here as a branch of Tartu City Museum in 1993.

The restoration plans for converting the building into a museum were drafted by Kai Siim and Udo Tiirmaa, architects with ARC-Projekt, and the restoration work was carried out by Restar. The exterior of the dwelling was restored on the basis of its preserved parts. The historical interior was restored in the Biedermeier style characteristic of the second quarter of the 19 th century under the aegis of interior designer Leila Pärtelpoeg.

Gallery: The 19 th Century Tartu Citizen’s Home Museum

Gallery: Christmas at the 19th Century Tartu Citizen’s Home Museum