The Song Festival Museum is a branch of Tartu City Museum that was established on 19 October 2007. The museum is located on Jaama Street in the Ülejõe neighbourhood, in the former residence of the Vanemuine Society.
The Classical building from the first half of the 19 th century is listed as a cultural monument and holds great importance in our cultural history. From 1870-1903 it was used by the Vanemuine Society, which established the tradition of Estonian song festivals. Other groups who had a significant influence on the shaping of Estonian culture also operated from this building and organised events here, including the Estonian Farmers Society of Tartu, the Estonian Literary Society and the Estonian Students Society. It was here on 24 June 1870 that a popular play by Lydia Koidula, Saaremaa onupoeg, was performed, paving the way for the foundation of Estonian theatre. In the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries the Vanemuine Society held get-togethers in the building’s garden. At the peak of their popularity, as many as 10,000 people attended these events. From 1907-1988 the building was used as a nursery school and later by Tartu Theatre Workshop, Tartu Children’s Theatre and the Emajõgi River Summer Theatre. In 2007 the Song Festival Museum, a branch of Tartu City Museum, opened in the building. On the second floor are the offices of Tartu Summer Theatre Society and the Vanemuine Society. The permanent exhibition is divided into two parts: on the ground floor visitors can enjoy an exhibition on the history of song festivals, while on the third floor they can learn all about the birth of Estonian theatre.