The Estonian Road Museum is one of the biggest culture stations in Southeast Estonia. This is the place where the road revives.
The idea to gather information on the history of Estonian roads has been around for nearly half a century, it was initiated by Aadu Lass, a legendary road enthusiast and Road Administration employee, who spent decades working for this cause with like-minded colleagues. The choice of location fell on a worthy 150-year-old postal station on the Tartu-Võru post road, which has been preserved better than any other former postal station in Estonia.
As the museum includes information on roads and road construction of the past, present and future, the museum team, led by its first manager Marge Rennit, took to compiling an exemplary collection of road construction machines. In 2003, an exhibition hall that takes up 1000 m² was built to display this outstanding collection.
The museum was opened to visitors on June 6, 2005, and it operates as a part of the Estonian Road Administration in the administrative area of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
Tee ajalugu! (Road History!/Make History!)
The first permanent exhibition “Tee ajalugu!” was opened in the Varbuse postal station in 2005. The theme of the exhibition was the history of roads in Estonia, it focused on the development of roads and means of transport from ancient times to the present day. The authors of the exhibition were Marge Rennit, Mairo Rääsk and Juhan Kreem. The design was created by Malle Jürgenson and Krista Lepland from the design company Laika, Belka & Strelka OÜ. The exhibition was awarded the title of the Exhibition of the Year and it received the national museum award Museum Rat 2006.
Teeaeg (Road Time)
2010 marked the launch of Road Time, a new exhibition environment of the Road Museum. This exhibition was built in the great outdoors and it brought some unexpected architecture to the landscape of Southern Estonia. Road Time, which takes up about 1.5 hectares, consists of two larger parts – an exhibition area and a rest area. There is a historical road space, which showcases various road signs and machines, in the exhibition area. The rest area has a track of skill, a traffic town and a playground. The two areas are linked by the Vati bridge, the oldest steel road bridge in Estonia, dating back to 1884.
Head teed! (Have a Great Journey!/ Good Roads!)
The exhibition rooms of the postal station got a thorough update in 2016 and a new permanent exhibition called “Have a great journey!” was opened. The cellar was turned into a temporary exhibition room and the coach house was transformed into a display of horse carriages for the new exhibition. The second floor of the main house was turned into a children’s museum that conveys the atmosphere of a postal station to kids in a really unique way.
The next development of the Estonian Road Museum shall be the reconstruction of the machine hall built in 2003 and creating a car and traffic education centre in the beginning of summer season 2019.