Research Projects and Exhibitions


– Historiography of Art History, with an emphasis on the Baltic area in the 19th and 20th centuries, led by prof Krista Kodres. The research group includes 3 junior researchers and 3 doctoral students. The research topics range from the studies of the canon of Baltic German heritage to ‘Socialist Realist’ art history writing in the Soviet period and beyond. Research in this direction has been funded by grants from Estonian Research Council and individual grants from Böckler-Mare-Balticum-Stiftung.

– History of Soviet Architecture, Material and Visual Culture, led by prof Andres Kurg. The research group includes 3 researchers and 4 doctoral students. The research topics range from the studies of decorative and applied art in Estonia in 1960s–1970s to Baltic mass housing projects after World War II to Moscow paper architecture movement. Research has been funded by grants from Estonian Research Council, EU Culture program and individual grants from the Graham Foundation and Estonian Cultural Endowment.

– Visual Culture Studies and Picture Theory, with an emphasis on semiotics and phenomenology, led by prof Virve Sarapik and includes 2 senior researchers and 5 doctoral students. Their research ranges from the studies of Edmund Husserl’s theory of images and Charles Sanders Peirce’s theory of pragmatism to discourses of visual culture and memory in contemporary Baltic countries. This research has been funded by grants from Estonian Research Council and individual grants from Mobilitas Pluss program.

Additionally, the Institute carries out research in two further areas through the expertise of its staff, early modern art and architecture in the Baltic region and feminist art history.


In addition to standard humanities qualifications, a number of international research exhibitions has been organised by the Institute staff. The exhibition program of the Institute is related to the output of individual researchers and includes collaboration with all major museum spaces in Estonia and beyond.

Recently curated shows by staff members (selection):

– “Leisure Spaces of Urbanized Socialist ‘Summerfolk’ – from Summer Cottages to Company Holiday Home” (working title), upcoming in summer 2020 at the Museum of Estonian Architecture, Tallinn, co-curator Epp Lankots.

– “A Room of One’s Own. A Feminist’s Questions to Architecture” in spring 2019 at the Museum of Estonian Architecture, curator Ingrid Ruudi.

– “Gordon Matta-Clark: Anarchitect. Anu Vahtra: Completion through Removal” in spring 2019 at Kumu Art Museum, Estonian Museum of Art, Tallinn, co-curator Anu Allas.

– “Anu Rank-Soans. Classics” in 2018/2019 at Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, curator Karin Nugis Vicente.

– “The X Files. Registry of the Nineties” in 2018/2019 at Kumu Art Museum, co-curator Anders Härm.

– “Centrifugal Tendencies: Tallinn–Moscow–Novosibirsk” in 2017/2018 at Museum for Architectural Drawing, Tchoban Foundation, Berlin, co-curator Andres Kurg.

– “Conflicts and Adaptations. Estonian Art of the Soviet Era (1940–1991)”, permanent display since 2016 at Kumu Art Museum, curator Anu Allas.

– “Unbuilt. Visions for a New Society, 1986–1994” in spring 2015 at Museum of Estonian Architecture, curator Ingrid Ruudi.

– “Sacred Modernity. Nikolai Kormashov’s Paintings from the 1960s” in 2013/2014 at Kumu Art Museum, curator Kädi Talvoja.

– “Our Metamorphic Futures. Design, Technical Aesthetics and Experimental Architecture in the Soviet Union 1960–1980” in 2011/2012 at Vilnius National Gallery, and Museum of Estonian Applied Art and Design, Tallinn, curators Andres Kurg, Mari Laanemets.



Publishing the 6-volume ‘History of Estonian Art’

Publishing the multi-volume History of Estonian Art was initiated in 1999. It ...

Readdressing Practices and Theories of Experimentation in the 20th- and 21st-Century Estonian Visual and Spatial Culture

The main aim of this project is to analyze experiment in Estonian visual and spatial culture, and to investigate its role in official economic and ...

Image or Sign: A Phenomenological Study of Pictorial Representation

The aim of my project is to defend the originality of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological account of pictorial representation and to ...

Historicizing Art: Knowledge Production in Art History in Estonia amidst Changing Ideologies and Disciplinary Developments

The main objective of the research project Historicizing Art: Knowledge Production in Art History in Estonia amidst Changing Ideologies and Disciplinary Developments is to examine the processes in art historiography and knowledge ...

Patterns of Development in Contemporary Estonian Culture

The aims of the program are: (1) to prepare and present a grant application to European Research ...

Visualising the Nation: Institutional Critique of the Twentieth-Century Art and Architecture in Estonia

The general objective of the project is to study the dynamics of national identity in 20th century visual culture and built environment ...

Spatial Environment in Estonia as an Object of Art Historical Research

The aim of this research project is to analyse the spatial environment in the context of transformed methods of art history after the cultural turn, to focus on new interpretative possibilities of architecture and the built environment as well ...