SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2000

Environmental Problems in Preserving Wooden Buildings at the Estonian Open Air Museum


The Estonian Open Air Museum was founded in 1957 on the shore of Kopli Bay near Tallinn, on the territory of the 19th-century Rocca al Mare summer residence. By 1966, 22 structures had been transported to the Museum grounds. At present the number of structures is 79. The Museum was established to collect, preserve, study, and exhibit typical and best examples of historical rural architecture. Every component of the exposition, including ensembles of farm structures designed as villages together with their furnishings, are meant to recreate an authentic reflection of folk culture.

The Estonian Open Air Museum has encountered several problems in preserving its exhibit buildings. The geographical and climatic location of the Museum is not ideal for an open-air museum. Increased general pollution and acid precipitation have contributed to wood deterioration. It has proven difficult to adapt old wooden buildings to new environmental conditions into which they are transported.

The location of the Museum is rather unfavorable for preserving the exhibits. As the Estonian Open Air Museum is situated near the sea, a very damp maritime climate dominates. The first years of the Museum were accompanied by the lack of knowledge on how to control mold and fungi growth. The chemical treatment of exhibit buildings was begun in 1966. Structures in the Museum were treated periodically between 1966 and 1995. The increase of general pollution and the awareness of its effects has diminished the desire to continue to use chemicals in preserving the exhibit buildings.

At present, an alternative to chemicals is being utilized. Temperierungsystem, a German method for regulating the temperature in the buildings, diminishes the rate of humidity as well as the instability of temperature. It is too early, however, to pass judgement on the efficacy of this method.

Author Information

Laht, M
Eesti Vabaõhumuuseum (Estonian Open Air Museum), Tallinn, Estonia
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Developed by Committee: E06
Pages: 95–106
DOI: 10.1520/STP13376S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5415-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2497-4