Summer exhibition “Before the lights were turned off” 1.06-27.08.18

On the 24th of February 1938 the twentieth birthday year of the Republic of Estonia was celebrated. The young state had overcome most of its larger problems by that time and the jubilee was celebrated thoroughly and wholeheartedly. Over all of Estonia parades and ceremonies were taking place, but importance was also placed on tidying the surroundings and houses, and decorating the streets. It became a custom in the thirties to use electric lights, which were had been recently taken into use in street lights, also in illuminating (decorating with light) the facades of houses. People from close and far came to enjoy this magnificent light spectacle. Light was used especially generously and proudly in Tallinn. Bright electric light seemed unprecedentedly powerful to the people who were used to the darkness of winter. In the evening of the day of the anniversary many people walked around, enjoying the electric lighting. For the evening of the 22nd of February 1938 also journalists were invited to the capital to see the results of the festive outdoor lighting.

The authors of the night photos shown in the exhibition are one of the Republic of Estonia’s first professional press photographers Hans Soosaar (1903-1961) and the architect-engineer and photography enthusiast Baltic German Otto Grohmann (1887-?).
Otto Grohmann’s photos are part of his glass negative collection that depict the streets and buildings of Tallinn. The collection consists of 150 negatives from the 1930s, which were left in Estonia after he emigrated to Germany in the November of 1939.