Author:
Sten-Ander Ojakallas

Tartu 2024: Toomemägi Revisited

In 2024, Toomemägi (Toome Hill), so central to the city of Tartu, will come to life with light, culture and science. The project is part of the main programme of Tartu 2024: European Capital of Culture.

What 
makes Toomemägi so distinctive has evolved over the centuries. The heart of medieval Tartu and the historic centre of the university have both been located on this hill. Today, Toomemägi is a peaceful park in the centre of the city, and yet very few people end up here. We are adding a new layer of interpretation to the heritage of this hill and welcome people from Tartu, Estonia and all over Europe to wander around here.

Toomemägi Revisited: Lighting Artwork

Tartu Cathedral will be celebrating its 800th anniversary during Tartu’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2024. To mark the occasion, we are producing a unique work of lighting art for the cathedral which will breathe new life into Toomemägi as an attractive and unconventional destination in the eyes of locals and foreign visitors alike. Tartu Cathedral is the biggest medieval church in Estonia and embodies a dramatic architectural hybridism: one half of the structure currently serves as the University of Tartu Museum, while the other half has been preserved as a unique set of ruins.

 An international competition was launched in 2023 for concepts for the artistic lighting solution. It was won by the renowned Belgian lighting design agency Light-to-Light – which boasts extensive experience all over Europe – in cooperation with lighting artists Chiara Carucci (Italy) and Alfred Sà (Spain). Their winning work, ‘Sunrise and Sunset’, was inspired by the story Dawn and Dusk by Estonia’s Friedrich Robert Faehlmann and combines Nordic folklore with modern technology. The lighting solution is both economical and dynamic, will change throughout the night and will relate in a new way to the surrounding natural environment and the people who live in the area.

 As a result of the project, the visually attractive cathedral will be an inspiring destination for everyone in Tartu – one which prompts them to interpret cultural heritage in what is quite literally a new light. ‘Toomemägi Revisited’ will inspire the innovative, creative and environmentally aware development of urban space. Visitors to the hill will also get to enjoy special light shows. This will provide an opportunity to experience Toomemägi’s mystical beauty in a completely new way.

Toomemägi Revisited: Lifesaver 

The purpose of the Lifesaver project is to open up genetics, a crucial field of modern science and research, as a symbiosis of art and science. The discipline has obtained an important position on the international stage, as it is connected to various fields of research and life, such as personalised medicine, archaeology and mental health. In Estonia, awareness of genetics in society has grown thanks to the work of the University of Tartu’s Estonian Biobank, which has obtained genetic samples from 20% of Estonia’s adult population.

As a result of the project, the artist produced a work showcasing various aspects of genetics on Toomemägi Hill. The artist behind the Lifesaver project is Valdek Laur, who usually works in the field of digital media, jewellery and metalwork, but is drawn to science communication and the visualisation of complex concepts and data.

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