Captured in a Blink. Estonian Photography 1850–1912

Estonian History Museum, Great Guild Hall

Exhibition about Estonian photography from the first known pictures from the 1850s until the birth of Estonian cinematography in 1912Historic photographs vividly reflect the rapid developments in Estonian society and environment in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Captures from the capital Tallinn, from the very first panoramic views to the numerous series of postcards, have an important place in the exhibition. A rich variety of remarkable shots by the most important photographers working in Estonia in that period – Carl Schulz, Charles Borchardt, Reinhold Sachker, Bernhard Lais, Heinrich Tiidermann, Hans and Jaan Kristin and others – is displayed in thematic groups. Photographic materials and processes of the era are introduced using rarities from the museum collections. The key aspects of the history of Estonian photography and the most recent discoveries in the domain are presented in the texts. Apart from lectures and guided tours, workshops will also be held, teaching people to value and care for historical photographs.

The exhibition is based mostly on the abundant photographic collection of the Estonian History Museum, but pictures from other collections, both public and private, are also on display.

As independent projects, two websites are connected to the exhibition. is a game for geotagging historic pictures through crowdsourcing, and the Biographic Database of Estonian Photographers 1844–1944 gathers information about photographers who have worked on Estonian ground.

Supported by Estonian Cultural Endowment, The Gambling Tax Council, LED Light Grupp, Zelluloos.

Tõnis Liibek (1976) is research director at the Estonian History Museum (Tallinn). Graduated from the Central European University in 2002 (MA in History), in 2010 defended his PhD in the History of Culture at the Institute of Fine Arts, Tallinn University. His specialities are the history of cinematography and 19th century photography and 18th and 19th century urban history.

Merilis Roosalu (1983) is keeper of the photographic collection and photo conservator at the Estonian History Museum (Tallinn). Graduated from the Estonian Art Academy (2008, MA in Cultural Heritage and Conservation).

8 October 2011, at 12:00


8 October 2011 – 4 March 2012


Estonian History Museum, Great Guild Hall


Pikk 17, Tallinn


Museum ticket

More info

Korraldajad: Eesti Ajaloomuuseum, MTÜ Eesti Fotopärand


Tõnis Liibek, Merilis Roosalu