01.07.2020 - 28.02.2021 / Art Gallery

Event overview

An architectural exhibition entitled ‘Urban Narva: From Dacha to Palace’ is open at the Narva Museum Art Gallery, providing a witty overview of the unruly world of border town architecture.

At the heart of the exhibition lies Narva’s urban space, from which you get a glimpse into the past. Although Narva is one of the largest cities in Estonia, its architecture is only known at random. This exhibition fills in these gaps and uncovers various layers of Narva, from the Middle Ages up to the present day, from dacha to palace, from the town’s fortress to the Fama shopping centre. The selected sites - schools, factories, places of worship and residential buildings - are the most outstanding in the city in terms of their style and history, or the best representatives of standard solutions. The exhibition makes no bones about highlighting contradictions and comic effect, shining the spotlight on boathouse dachas in a kind of poor man’s Venice, imposing bastions, standard apartment buildings, Art Nouveau, Kreenholm heritage and masterpieces of modern Estonian architecture.

The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive publication similarly titled ‘Narva: From Dacha to Palace’, which takes an in-depth look at the visible architecture of Narva while examining the broader context of time, architecture and cultural history. The book is designed for both locals and tourists visiting the city who want to find out more about the man-made environment in Narva and Ivangorod. The publication is currently only available in Estonian, but a Russian translation is to be published in a few months’ time.

The team behind the exhibition and the publication – heritage conservationist Madis Tuuder and art historian Karin Paulus – stress that their approach was not based on a beautiful vision of Narva erased from nostalgia, but rather a desire to highlight and value the multi-layered and exciting architectural environment that exists today. "There’s been no new overview of Narva in terms of its urban space since Oleg Kotšenovski’s was published back in 1991,” says Tuuder. “We’ve looked at the city as a whole, which is to say all of the places you see now, so everything from the Town Hall to the city’s micro-districts. Those districts barely rate a mention when Narva’s architecture is discussed, but they make up a big proportion of the city.” Co-curator of the exhibition Karin Paulus explains: "We want to show that alongside industrial architecture and the baroque, the city’s Soviet-era facilities, in all their diversity – from Stalinism to postmodernism – are just as noteworthy, as are the completely new buildings. The beach-front building with its roof you can walk on and the University of Tartu Narva College and Estonian Academy of Security Sciences buildings are no less awesome than their older counterparts in the city. Some show the strange, chaotic post-Soviet atmosphere of the place some love as well. Everyone from Narva will find information about their neighbourhood in the book, and in many cases about their buildings and the summer cottage district as well.”

The designer of the exhibition is Tõnu Narro, with graphic design by Jaan Evart. The publication was edited by Merike Ivask and designed by Jaan Evart. The entire project is being supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
‘Urban Narva: From Dacha to Palace’ will be open at the Narva Museum Art Gallery until 28 February 2021.

For further information please contact:

Karin Paulus, curator | karinpaulus@gmail.com
Madis Tuuder, curator | madis.tuuder@narva.ee
Rael Artel, gallery director | kunstigalerii@narvamuuseum.ee
Tanel Murre, marketing manager | tanel.murre@narvamuuseum.ee


Trains run from Tallinn to Narva 4-5 times a day, with tickets costing around 10 euros. Go to elron.ee for details and enjoy a great day in Narva!

Narva Museum Art Gallery (Vestervalli 21) is open from 11:00-20:00 on Wednesdays and from 11:00-18:00 Thursday-Sunday.

INFORMATION: info@narvamuuseum.ee | +372 359 9230