The Old Observatory in Tartu is a unique building, where science has changed humanity’s understanding of the Earth and the universe. As part of the Struve Geodetic Arc, the Old Observatory belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The exhibition halls tell about astronomy, geodesy and seismology.
The lobby presents the geodetic measurements made by Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which proved that the Earth is indeed spherical. This knowledge left such an indelible mark in the history of science that the observatory was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The measurements made by Struve and Carl Friedrich Tenner were the most extensive of their time and reached from Northern Europe to the Black Sea. To commemorate the measurement work, the measurement point in Tartu is marked on the floor of the lobby.
In the Eastern Hall, visitors are greeted by historic telescopes of various sizes, the most special of which is the world-famous Fraunhofer lens telescope.
In the Clock Room, you can find out how time was measured in Estonia between the two world wars and learn about the importance and meaning of time in astronomy. The room also tells the story of Ernst Öpik, who was the first to determine the distance to the Andromeda Nebula, proving that there are galaxies outside the Milky Way.
The Western Hall offers exciting activities for both young and old. Next to the wall stands that present the development of astronomy and Estonian astronomers, you can gaze at luminous constellations, study the model of the Solar System, count meteors or try your strength against pieces of meteorites.
From the first floor you can access the basement to view exhibitions about seismology and about Earth in the universe. You will find out what is inside, on, and above the Earth.
Going up the stairs, you will find yourself in an unusually constructed tower that houses the Zeiss lens telescope. The tower dates from 1825 and was designed to be rotated by hand. The tower has a balcony that offers a great view of the centre of Tartu.
Read about the accessibility of the entire building here.
Project leaders: Lea Leppik, Reet Mägi, Viljar Valder
Museum team: Valmar Evert, Helle Jaaniste, Leili Kriis, Janet Laidla, Virge Lell, Terje Lõbu, Reet Mägi, Urmet Paloveer, Toomas Pung, Mariann Raisma, Margot Sakson, Sirje Sisask, Aile Tammiste, Kadri Tinn, Maris Tuuling, Raivo Uustare, Toomas Vahtra
Design: Laika, Belka ja Strelka OÜ
Design of information kiosks: Velvet DP OÜ
Language editor: Reves Grupp OÜ
Translations: Avatar OÜ
IT equipment: Astro Baltics OÜ
Designer of audio, video and educational systems: Helimees OÜ
Furnishings: Supra Mööbel OÜ, Rakvere RLR OÜ
Print: Brand Factory Estonia OÜ
Restoration of the large Fraunhofer refractor: Paolo Brenni
Restoration of the Zeiss refractor: Maico Metrics OÜ
Restoration of instruments: Kanut Restoration Centre
Furniture restoration: Mööbli Restauraator OÜ
Repair of the planetarium: Autoseir OÜ
Model teaching aids: Estrotech OÜ
Transport: KLG Eesti AS, AVA-Ekspress OÜ