The Museum of Photography houses the Tallinn City Museum’s collection of photographs, photographic negatives, photographic items and photo books.
The collection of photographs, which captures the changing image of the city and the lives of Tallinners, includes a wide range of images of Tallinn from the 1860s onwards. The content of the collection can be found on the Estonian Museums’ Public Portal.
The Museum of Photography is dedicated to the study and preservation of Estonia’s photographic history, which is why its collections are rich in material on photographers, photographic art and photographic culture in general. Our treasures include collections of works by famous Estonian photographers Johannes and Peeter Parikas, Nikolai Nyländer, Johannes Mülber, Hans Soosaar, Carl Sarap, Peeter Tooming, Gustav German and many members of the Tallinn Photography Club. The collections of village photographers and amateur photographers of the early and mid-20th century also deserve mention.
The history of Estonian photographic culture and the legacy of our photographers are also preserved in the collection of photographic equipment and tools. The museum has photographic artefacts dating back to the 19th century, including the famous Minox miniature camera and accessories invented in Estonia in the 1930s by Walter Zapp, the collection of Norma FIL flashlights produced in Estonia and a representative collection of USSR cameras. The collection also includes a variety of tools from studio photographer Jaan Riet, fashion photographer Boris Mäemets, sports photographer Gunnar Vaidla and press photographer Peeter Langovits.
The Photographic Museum’s collection of photographic books and documents includes publications, manuscripts, documents, including the first photographic textbooks and photographic journals in Estonian, and the extensive libraries of photographic literature by the Parikas brothers and Peeter Tooming.
For users of the collections
The main tool for accessing the collections of the Museum of Photography is the Estonian Museums’ Public Portal (MuIS), which contains all the collections of the Tallinn City Museum (please note that the photographs are not yet 100% image captured). To search for items and objects via muis.ee, select “detailed search” and Tallinn City Museum from the list of museums. We recommend that you write the search term in lowercase and between percent signs (for example, %raekoda% in the case of Tallinn Town Hall).
- Image files can be ordered via the order form or directly from the muis.ee website via the feedback form next to the description of the item.
- If you need information about photographers, there is a database of Estonian photographers from 1840-1940.
- A list of the museum’s collection of 19th to the first half of the 20th-century photographers and photographic companies can be found here.