Exhibition “Ars Academica. The University of Tartu Art Collection” returns home

On 18 February, the exhibition “Ars academica. The University of Tartu Art Collection” is opened in the University of Tartu Museum in the historic cathedral, giving a grand overview of the best works in the university’s collection.

At the exhibition the audience will see paintings, prints and sculptures from the treasuries of the university’s museum and library – from the graphic works by Albrecht Dürer to the monumental painting “Universitas Tartuensis” by Enn Põldroos. The University of Tartu owns a total of nearly 45,000 artworks, and its collections of antique prints and plaster casts of antique sculptures are the largest in Estonia.

“When choosing works from very different eras and art forms, we as curators paid attention to the art-historical significance of the works as well as their meaningful connection with the history and people of the university,” said curator of the exhibition, Ingrid Sahk.

“Ars academica” sheds new light on the works of art that are usually on the walls of lecture halls and offices seen by professors and students, and also displays masterpieces that have not been publicly exhibited for a long time. The exhibition speaks openly of the fate and the problems of the academic collection, and the principles, traditions and future perspectives of collecting art.

The University of Tartu is the birthplace of Estonian art studies, the first art museum and drawing school. The university’s museum and library celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of Karl Morgenstern throughout last year, and “Ars academica” is a fitting sequel to the Morgenstern year.

Surprisingly, there had been no review exhibitions of Estonia’s oldest art collection before the centenary of our national university. This fault was rectified by “Ars academica”, which was opened in Kadriorg Art Museum in autumn 2019, and has now found its way back to its home town.

The ability of art and science to connect different places, times and knowledge is well illustrated in the centrepiece of the exhibition, the monumental painting “Universitas Tartuensis” by Enn Põldroos, which depicts 37 scholars important for the university in an artistically ingenious form.

The exhibition is open in the University of Tartu Museum from 18 February 2021 to 27 February 2022. Due to the virus risk, there will be no traditional opening ceremony this year. The exhibition was curated by Ingrid Sahk and Tiina-Mall Kreem, and the designer and author of graphic design is Angelika Schneider.

Photo of the painting by Enn Põldroos “Universitas Tartuensis”. University of Tartu

Further information: Ingrid Sahk, Curator of the University of Tartu Museum, ingrid.sahk@ut.ee

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Ele Loonde

Communication Specialist, University of Tartu Museum


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