70 Years from the Paris World Exhibition in 1937



Exhibition introduces the successful representation of the pre World War II Estonian artist community in Paris at the international great exhibition, the topic of which was “Art and Technology in Modern Life”. (“Arts et Technique dans la Vie Moderne”).


For two years prior to the representative exhibition of the time, many nationwide competitions were held here and this became the largest foreign exhibition to introduce Estonia both by scope and cost. It was nationally decided to be presented jointly in the same Baltic pavilion with Latvia and Lithuania. The chief architect of the Baltic joint pavilion was Aleksander Nürnberg from Estonia and with grand festivity the building was opened to the public , with the participation of the official delegations of all parties in Paris on 17 June 1937.


Estonia was represented at the International Exhibition mainly by the creations of the members of The Association of Applied Arts (RaKü) – photographic art and books and national handicraft. Industry had a smaller role, being mainly represented through the work of the oil shale industry. Estonia was also introduced as an attractive tourist country.


The diplomas of recognition for the participants of the Paris International Exhibition were divided into five categories and it is wonderful that from each of these diplomas went to those of the Estonian collection. Two honorary diplomas were given to Adamson-Eric, who dealt also with the design of the collection and later introduced the grand enterprise in depth in the newspaper columns at home. That is the reason the Adamson-Eric museum looks back at the 1937 Paris world exhibition phenomenon in Estonian art with a cultural historic exhibition.


It is worth mentioning the most significant artists whose art has been available and a prerequisite for compiling the collection 70 years later: Adamson-Eric – two honorary diplomas for carpets, ceramics and a china painting, Mari Adamson – honorary diploma for decorative animals and dolls; the chief architect of the Baltic pavilion Aleksander Nürnberg – grand prix, the author of the mural paintings of the general hall of the Baltic pavilion Oskar Raunam – grand prix, photographer Carl Sarap – gold medal. In the field of interior design, Richard Wunderlich was recognised for his decorative map and a cupboard in the technique of intarsia accordingly with an honorary diploma and a gold medal. In the field of ornamental leather work, the grand prix went to Eduard Taska and a bronze medal was given to the metal art display of Roman Tavast. Karin Luts was awarded a gold medal for her tapestry and the jeweller Ede Maran (Kurrel) got a gold medal for filigree art. In ceramic collection and honorary diploma was awarded to the art of Jaan Koort and Valli Talvik (Eller), a gold medal was also given for the glass artist Maks Roosma’s engravings.


There were other artists as well and the displays of Estonian publishers’ books and handicraft-related businesses were successful.


Exhibition curators: Ülle Kruus, Kersti Koll

Exhibition designer: Andres Tolts

Educational projects: Liisi Lauer