Disciplinary history

Research group: Indrek Jääts, Marleen Metslaid, Piret Õunapuu

History of ethnology (ethnography) in Estonia is very much related to the history of the ENM. In last decades the researchers have focused their attention mainly on the period from late 19th century till the 1930s and have been interested both in the museum as well as in individual researchers. The studies have focused on the understanding of scholarship as practice and seeing it in the national, institutional and international context. Analytical and cultural critical approach and reflexive meta-level analysis have been applied which helps to interpret the research results in the international academic context. As a discipline studying culture and society, ethnology has since its establishment been closely intertwined with politics and ideology, and hence the question of who and how has been represented and the impact of this heritage on contemporary studies has been its main concern.

In 2015 this research team started to investigate the Soviet period in Estonian ethnology when the relationship between political power, ideology and disciplinary practices became even more complex. A conference dedicated to the Soviet period Finno-Ugric studies of Estonian ethnographers and folklorists was organized as a point of departure. Study of this period could be based on memories of retired colleagues, in addition to archive materials and different kinds of written sources.


Cultural heritage as a socio-cultural resource and contested field (IUT34-32, 2015-2020, principal investigator Kristin Kuutma). Research staff: Marleen Metslaid

Analysis of Knowledge Production in the Context of (National) Heritage Scholarship (ETF7795, 2009-2012, principal investigator Kristin Kuutma). Research staff: Marleen Metslaid

The Raadi manor and the Lipharts’ art collection (ETF7445, 2008-2011, principal investigator Juhan Maiste). Research staff: Piret Õunapuu


Nõmmela, M. (2010). On creating a realm of memory: the first permanent exhibition of Estonian folk culture in the Estonian National Museum. In: Ethnologia Fennica. Finnish Studies in Ethnology, 37, 7-21.

Nõmmela, M. (2010). The State, the Museum and the Ethnographer in Constructing National Heritage: Defining Estonian National Costumes in the 1930s. In: Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics, 4 (1), 49-61.

Õunapuu, P. (2011) Eesti Rahva Muuseumi loomine ja väljakujunemine (Foundation and evolution of the Estonian National Museum). Doctoral thesis. Dissertationes Historiae Universitatis Tartuensis 23. Tartu: Tartu University Publishers.

Nõmmela, M. (2011). Becoming an Ethnographer. Becoming a Science. Ferdinand Linnus and Estonian Ethnology in the 1920s. In: Lietuvos etnologija: socialinès antropologijos ir etnologijos studijos, 11(20), 93-108.

Nõmmela, M. (2011). Ühe mälukoha loomisest: esimene eesti rahvakultuuri püsinäitus Eesti Rahva Muuseumis. In: Eesti Rahva Muuseumi aastaraamat vol 54, 14-37.

Õunapuu, P. (2011).The Tallinn Department of the Estonian National Museum: History and Developments. In: Folklore. Electronic Journal of Folklore 48, Tartu: Folk Belief and Media Group of ELM, 163-196.

Õunapuu, P. (2013). Eesti Rahva muuseumi strateegiad ja praktikad rahvaga suhtlemisel muuseumi algusaastatel. In: Õpetatud Eesti Seltsi aastaraamat. Tartu: Õpetatud Eesti Selts, 101-128.

Õunapuu, P. (2012). Eesti Rahva Muuseumi teostamata unistused. – Eesti Rahva Muuseumi aastaraamat, vol 55, 15-31.

Aljas, A.; Liiv, J., Raba, K. (eds.). (2015). Etteaste. ERMi näitusemaja 1994-2015. Tartu: Estonian National Museum.

Jääts, I. (2014). Üks kuulus välitöö ja selle pikk vari: Oskar Kallas, Paulopriit Voolaine ja Lutsi maarahvas. In: Eesti Rahva Muuseumi aastaraamat, 57. Tartu: Eesti Rahva Muuseum, 14-41.

Õunapuu, P. (2015). Kunst Raadil Eesti Rahva Muuseumis. In: Kukk, I. (ed.). Unistuste Raadi: Liphartite kunstikogu Eestis. Raadi of our dreams: the Liphart family and their art collection in Estonia, Tartu: Tartu University Publishers, 161-175.

Metslaid, M. (2016). Poolelijäänud teadustöö. Helmi Kurriku elu keerdkäigud 20. sajandil. In: Tartu Ülikooli ajaloo küsimusi, XLIV, 96-120.

Metslaid, M. (2016). Gustav Ränga tee Tartu Ülikooli professoriks. Eesti etnoloogia 1930. aastatel. In: Tuna. Ajalookultuuri ajakiri, vol 1, 50-67.

Metslaid, M. (2016). Etnograafilise teadmise koosloomine. Eesti Rahva Muuseumi Korrespondentide Võrk 1930. aastatel. In: Eesti Rahva Muuseumi aastaraamat vol 59, 78-101.

Õunapuu, P., Tael, T. (2011). Vanavara kogumisretkedelt; 8. Gustav Vilbaste. Tartu: Estonian National Museum.

Õunapuu, P. (2011). Vanavara kogumisretkedelt 9. Marie Heiberg, Marta Veiler, Bertha Veski. Tartu: Estonian National Museum.

Õunapuu, P. (2013). Vanavara kogumisretkedelt 10. Paul Keerdo. Tartu: Estonian National Museum.

Õunapuu, P. (2015). Vanavara kogumisretkedelt 11. Cara Wilberg. Tartu: Estonian National Museum.

Õunapuu, P. (2015). Vanavara kogumisretkedelt 12. Ferdinand Leinbock. Tartu: Estonian National Museum.


2013. Korraks koju. 1940–1968 Eesti Rahva Muuseumi kogudest eraldatud aarded/Visiting home. Treasures separated from the collections of the ENM in 1940-1968, curators Riina Reinvelt, Piret Õunapuu, cooperation with Estonian Art Academy, Estonian History Museum, Estonian Art Museum, Estonian Theatre and Music Museum, Tartu Art Museum, Tartu City museum

2013. Kirglik Johannes Leopold Gahlnbäck / Passionate Johannes Leopold Gahlnbäck, curator Piret Õunapuu

2014. DVD Kadunud hõim: lugu Lutsi maarahvast. / Lost Tribe: A Story about the Lutsi Estonians, authors Indrek Jääts, Maido Selgmäe, Tartu: Estonian National Museum

2016. Eesti Rahva Muuseumi lugu / Story of the Estonian National Museum, curators Piret Õunapuu, Jane Liiv, Tuuli Kaalep