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Building History
The museum is located in an old parish schoolhouse, originally built for confirmation classes in 1869. The parish school was open in 1873, accepting village students with 3 or 4 years of education. The center of the building was the living and sleeping area for the Headmaster and the pupils; both ends of the building were used for classroom study. During the years of Estonia's independence (1918 - 1940), the building also accommodated Subsequent to the Soviet occupation, the primary and secondary school students. Building was used for public housing and was destroyed by fire in 1984. The Väike-Maarja Collective Farm reconstructed the building with a view towards historical preservation, opening the Museum in 1988. The Museum was in the care of the Collective Farm until it was dissolved in 1993, at which time the Municipality assumed responsibility for its care and maintenance.

Local historical memorabilia and information - Room #1
Admiral Adam Johan von Krusenstern's family memorial wreaths - Admiral Adam Johan von Krusenstern lead the first Russian voyage around the world. During the 19th century he and his heirs lived at the Kiltsi Manorial Estate, located 6 km south of Väike-Maarja. A.J. Krusenstern wrote his "Atlas of the South Seas" and other important works while living at Kiltsi Manor. His son, Paul Theodor von Krusenstern was also an admiral and an explorer. Members of the Krusenstern family are buried in the Väike-Maarja churchyard, however, the Admiral himself is buried in the Tallinn Dome Church by special privilege granted by Russian Tsar Nikolai I. Georg Lurich's memorial slabs - Georg Lurich was the strongest man in the world for a 20 year period in the early 20th century. His development into a weight-lifter and wrestler was unexpected, because as a child, Georg was in bad health and did not participate in physical training activities. While at school in Tallinn, he began a self-training program and soon surpassed the abilities of his rivals. Väike-Maarja Church - The namesake of the Väike-Maarja community was built in about 1375. The gothic style church contains a beautiful stained-glass window entitled "Jesus Blesses Little Children" and an altarpiece painted by E.F. Liphard in 1902. Monument of Freedom - In the park across from the church stands the Monument of Freedom dedicated to the soldiers killed in World War I and the War of Estonian Independence (1918 - 1920). The monument was unveiled in 1925, but was destroyed by Russians and communists, first in 1940 and then again in 1944. It was restored under the leadership of the Väike-Maarja Heritage Society, with the support of the local collective farm, in the summer of 1991. Work-shops and stores - There were 34 workshops or trade masters and 16 stores in Väike-Maarja at the end of Estonia's first independence (1939). In 1941, local communists and Russian soldiers set fire to Väike-Maarja destroying 20 buildings. During the Soviet period, there were 5 workshops and 5 stores. Alar Kotli, architect - The famous Estonian architect, Alar Kotli, was born in Väike-Maarja. He designed the stage for the National song-festival grounds in Tallinn.

History of Estonian Farms - Room #2
These displays show basic necessities of life and some farm tools for cutting peat, for threshing, and for flax. A typical room and kitchen in an old farmhouse is represented as it looked at the turn of the century. The documents of farm ownership show the story of Estonians becoming landowners. The purchase of land from estate owners in the area of Väike-Maarja started during the last quarter of the 19th century. With the land reform of the Estonian Republic, the Estonian people finally became masters of their own country. The land expropriated from Baltic Germans was divided into small holdings. The Soviet occupation in 1940 again brought about foreign control and repression. The photographs and documents tell us about the life of those deported and imprisoned in Siberia.

Societies of Väike-Maarja - Room #3
The period of National Awakening in Väike-Maarja was in the last quarter of the 19th century. This is reflected by the creation of Societies to pursue social interests; a total of 20 societies were active in Väike-Maarja. Cultural & Social Highlights: Jacob Liiv wrote and produced stage plays in Väike-Maarja. The first choir was founded in the 1870's and the first orchestra in 1896. The famous Estonian composer and conductor, Tuudur Vettik, studied at the local parish school. Even as a young student he conducted the mixed chorus and the male choir. Väike-Maarja song-festivals began in 1910 and continued through the period of independence; there were 4 in all. At that time there were ten choirs, today there are only two. The Farmers clubhouse, built in 1912 in only eight months, was the largest of its kind at that time. The farmers worked together to build the clubhouse using personal finances and communal labor.

Writer's Room - Room #4
Several writers were residing in Väike-Maarja at the turn of the century. They called themselves the Parnassians. The most famous of the writers were Peeter Jakobson, Jakob Tamm and Jakob Liiv. Here you can see the studyroom of the writer and headmaster J.Tamm.

Classroom exhibit - Room #5
The history of local education is exhibited in this room. The room consists of two 19th century desks, along with contemporary furnishings, that provide an historical atmosphere in which to hold current social gatherings and local history lessons. When the parish school opened in 1873, lessons were conducted in Russian to promote the russification of the Estonian people under tsarist Russia. The headmaster of the school was Jakob Tamm, a local writer and poet. Märt Meos, one of the founders of the national independent Estonian school, succeeded him.

Exposition of the history of the Väike-Maarja Collective Farm - 1st Floor (2nd level)
Collective farms were established in Estonia in 1949, just after the devastating deportation of Estonians to Siberia. In the beginning there were 17 small village collective farms in the Väike-Maarja territory. Over time, these dispersed farms were joined together into the Väike-Maarja Collective Farm. To join the collective farm, it was necessary to write an application to volunteer. The animals were driven into one cattle-shed, the agricultural implements were centralized and the work was performed collectively with the implements of the farm. Young people tended to leave their homes and the best farmers were deported, therefore, in the 1950's there was often no one to tend to the farms. In several areas animals died of hunger. In the 1960's life improved a bit. In 1967, Boris Gavronski came to Väike-Maarja as the chairman of the collective farm and surrounded himself with talented specialists. Under his leadership the wealth of the collective farm began to grow. Some industrial enterprises were founded and they began to make money. A firm foundation for cattle breeding was built, from which the collective farm received two-thirds of its income and four-fifths of its profits. There was also a first-class pig-breeding farm and a first-class cow-breeding farm. One chicken farm had about half of a million broilers. The collective farm had a stockyard and a pastry department, a grass-protein factory (equipment was from France used only for grass-granules), a mineral fodder factory and a dairy. The Vaike-Maarja collective farm was one of the richest in Estonia. As the local administration had no real power or money during the Soviet times, the collective farm supported the community services in addition to managing the farm activities. They built homes and apartments, for collective farm employees and also for the community service employees, as well as building a kindergarten, a complex for sports and leisure, a sauna, a hair saloon and restaurants. The entire infrastructure of Vaike-Maarja - business, social and environmental - was dependent upon the Collective Farm.
At the beginning of 1993, the collective farm was privatized into 28 small farms or businesses.

As a section of Väike-Maarja Museum serves the Vao Stronghold Tower-Museum.

Väike- Maarja Museum hours
02.May - 30.Sept.     Tues - Sat 10.00 - 17.00
01.Okt - 30.April     Mon - Fri 10.00 - 17.00
For special request call (37 232) 61 625
Adress: 3 Pikk Street Väike-Maarja Lääne-Virumaa
ESTONIA
E-mail: muuseum@v-maarja.ee
General admission prices the Museums:  adults - 15 kroons; students - 5 kroons.