Edmund Monsiel (1897-1962)

Hidden Worlds Expanding: Eastern European Outsider Art

The Kondas Centre exhibition ‘Hidden Worlds Expanding: Eastern European Outsider Art’ is set to open at the Tartu University Museum on 1 June.

The exhibition will showcase outsider art primarily from Eastern Europe, bringing together for the first time spectacular collections from a number of countries that have thus far been inaccessible to the general public. The exhibition will feature over 200 works by 59 artists from the historical and modern outsider art collections of 10 countries. Most of the works were borne of social isolation in psychiatric hospitals and special care homes, but pieces created as part of art therapy or supervised sessions in studios are also included. 

"As the name implies, outsider art and artists stand outside mainstream art movements due to their nonconformist nature. At the same time, it’s noteworthy that this doesn’t lessen the value of the field, rather the opposite: uniqueness is one of art’s most highly prized qualities.” 

Indrek Grigor, art critic and curator

Works of outsider art are often impossible to categorise under a specific style, define geographically or place in a specific era. However, they do possess a characteristic universality and deep sincerity, with no pretence to ambition. They can also be uncompromising: in some cases they serve as the only method of communication between their creator and the wider world. The ‘Hidden Worlds Expanding’ exhibition is to be held simultaneously in Viljandi, Tartu and Valga. 

The Tartu University Museum will be showcasing the exhibition’s earliest historical works from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some originate from the university’s Psychiatry Clinic archives, but the majority are from the psychiatric art collection of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the collection of the Silesian Museum in Katowice. Well-known artists represented in the exhibition include Edmund Monsiel (1897-1962), a true classic of outsider art, and Pál István (1888-1944), who has been called the Hungarian Van Gogh. ‘Hidden Worlds Expanding’ forms part of the main programme of Tartu 2024 – European Capital of Culture. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue and educational programme. The exhibition is being supported by Tartu 2024, the Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Viljandi City Government, the Liszt Institute in Tallinn, the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Estonia, the embassy of Austria in Estonia and Kettuki RY. 

Collections: Silesian Museum in Katowice (Poland); Kondas Centre (Estonia); Pavel Konečný’s private collection and the open studio collection of Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic); Art Brut Serbia collection (Serbia); the psychiatric art collection of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Hungary); Koprivnica City Museum (Croatia); Kettuki RY Hämeenlinna art studio (Finland); Art Cru gallery (Germany); and Lebenshilfe OÖ Gmunden open art studio (Austria).


Curators: Mari Vallikivi (The Kondas Centre)  and Eva Laantee Reintamm (The Kondas Centre)

Design: Kärt Einasto

Communication: Annika Vihmann  and Katre Ratassepp

Translations: Ann Kuslap

Editing: Tiina Sarv

Project Manager: Karoliina Kalda

Coordinator in Valga: Neeme Punder

Installation: Kaarel Narro, Indrek Grigor, Imre Toltsberg, Jüri Pillisner

Coordinator: Annabel Tanila

Getting there

  • The exhibition is on the third floor of the museum, accessible by elevator.
  • There is a high threshold at the door of the hall, and staff can provide a wooden ramp to help cross it.


  • The exhibition hall has some chairs with backs that can be moved around the room freely.
  • The hall has several benches without backs. 

Read about the accessibility of the entire building here.