University of Tartu Natural History Museum

Renewal of the permanent exhibition of the oldest museum building in Estonia, enabling the museum to offer an entertaining and modern experience - “Earth – Life – Story”.


University of Tartu


Tartu, Estonia

Exhibition area:

2000 m²



Scope of work:

Graphic design, CVI, multimedia design and production.

Interior architecture:

KOKO architects


Tõnu Tunnel, Kaido Haagen

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The Natural History Museum of the University of Tartu was founded in 1802. This makes it the oldest museum building in Estonia. Many of the exhibits come with a long history as well, with some of the fossils and animals dating back to the 19th century.

Although impressive, the permanent exhibition had gotten outdated and didn’t really offer an interactive and fun museum experience, as other more modern museums do.


Our vision was to introduce more digital solutions to give the collection some much needed new energy, while still respecting its history and dignity. The world of natural sciences consists of memorable discoveries and findings, making it an excellent canvas for an interactive exhibition.

Every visitor should be able to experience the wonderful world of nature and animals through activities, to let them better grasp its essence. One special wish from the museum was to unite the separated zoology and geology exhibitions to create a mutual exhibition space.


“Earth – Life – Story” is divided into three parts:
the history of the earth, the diversity of life, and patterns of life.

The spatial organisation inside the exhibition hall puts all visitors into an atmosphere that resembles the actual homes of the animals and birds in the forest. A balance between elements from nature and a clear design language allows the exhibits to feel natural while encouraging learning.

Using novel multimedia design and fabrication techniques we created educational and entertaining multimedia programmes that support the historic exhibits in ways that traditional museums couldn’t.



When taking on this project, it was clear that this historic museum was in need of some digitalization. At the same time it was important for its dignity and history to shine through and not be overshadowed by the modern multimedia programmes.

In the end we managed to find the perfect balance in creating an atmosphere that puts the historic exhibits into the limelight, while supporting them with modern solutions that help make the experience more fun.

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