About the Museum
In the southern part of the Old Town of Tallinn, between the Town Hall Square and the Toompea Hill, stands St. Nicholas’ Church. The former church today houses the Niguliste Museum, one of the branches of the Art Museum of Estonia. The exposition of ecclesiastical art from the Medieval and Early Modern periods presented here is the most significant and extensive collection of church art in Estonia.
The collection of the Art Museum of Estonia, founded in 1919, was formed in the course of almost a century. The majority of the church art was collected in the 1920s and 1930s. After the Second World War, works of ecclesiastical art from other museums and churches of Estonia were added to the collections, yet most of the exhibits in the Niguliste Museum originate from St. Nicholas’ Church.
The Niguliste Museum is one of the few northern European museums located in a former church, where ecclesiastical art can be enjoyed in its historical context. Late medieval altarpieces and wooden sculptures form the core of the collection. The best-known work in the museum is the Danse Macabre painted by Bernt Notke at the end of the 15th century. A large part of the exposition is comprised of post-Reformation ecclesiastical art from the 16th–17th centuries. The historical collection of the chandeliers of the church, as well as tombstones from the medieval and Early Modern periods, can be seen in the museum. The Silver Chamber, opened in 2001, displays a choice of objects from the silver collection of the Art Museum of Estonia, the most significant part being treasures of the Tallinn guilds and the Brotherhood of the Black Heads.