|The idea to establish the Tartu Art Museum was born in the spring of 1938 at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Art Society "Pallas". According to the initial plan, each member of the society would donate at least one of their works of art to the new museum. The project started in earnest in 1940, when an exhibition was organised from 26 February to 10 March on the premises of the Higher Art School Pallas. This occasion saw the introduction of the museum’s inaugural collection – 124 pieces in all. The Tartu Art Museum was officially founded according to the statute of the City Council on 17 November 1940 at the address Suurturg 3 (the present Town Hall Square). The collections of the museum were moved between several buildings and evacuation sites during World War II. In November 1945, to provide a new home for the museum, work began to refurbish a former dwelling house at Vallikraavi 14, which opened its doors on 2 May 1946. At present this building houses the collections of the museum and the offices of the scientific personnel.
In 1988, the Tartu Art Museum acquired the right to use a freshly restored building in the heart of the town centre, Raekoja Plats 18, the so-called Leaning House. It is a classicist building that leans in a similar manner to the Tower of Pisa. Here the museum displays its permanent exhibition of Estonian art and smaller temporary exhibitions, as well as hosting concerts, lectures and other events.
Meeting of the founding committee of Tartu Art Museum on the 18th
of March 1940 in the rooms of Art Society "Pallas." From left to right: town counsellor I. Lill, editor of "Postimees" newspaper J.
Kitzberg, representative of Art Society "Pallas" J. Püttsepp,
vice rector of Tartu University prof. E. Roots, director of "Pallas" Higher Art School A. Starkopf.
Director V. Erm with J. Koort's "Nurse" ja E. Jõesaare's "Female torso" during the salvaging of Tartu Art Museum at Lai street 17 on the 29th
of January 1943.