Pallas 100. The Art School and Its Legend


Pallas Higher Art School is the only applied art college in Estonia, which was started in Tartu in 1919. The art school, founded as a private educational institution of Pallas, was opened on October 1 under the supervision of Konrad Mägi. The 100th anniversary of the school was celebrated with an exhibition and a book called Pallas 100. Art School and The Legend, which combine the long history and specifics of the school. It was important to dignify the works of art, most of which were created during the period of 1919 and 1944, and the story of Pallas Art School without going into design clichés and avoiding kitsch.

The design solution for the Pallas 100. The Art School and The Legend exhibition of Tartu Art Museum was based on finding a balance between a contemporary approach and a Pallas-style feel, so that the viewer would focus on works, photographs and archival materials displayed. We also paid attention to the fact that this is an exhibition telling a story of an art school that existed in relatively poor and simple conditions, and many works on display were created by the students during their studies. Although classics such as the cultic Konrad Mägi and Eduard Wiiralt were on display, we decided to exclude the glamour and excessive subtlety. The materials and furniture used in the exhibition design are inspired in many ways by the studios of Pallas Art School.

In the exhibition catalogue, we elegantly hinted at the often-overlooked works of female artists by using a light pink colour in the print, giving the outside of the book a quite masculine appearance. The layout of the book is quite rigorous and created some unexpectedly interesting compositions.

The exhibition had a total of 8,287 visitors (more than four times the number of other exhibitions). The museum sold about 200 books during the exhibition, but sales continue in the museum and bookstores. According to the organizers, the exhibition design (Kaisa Sööt) in cooperation with Valter Jakovski’s graphic design received only very good feedback, as did the book.

The exhibition catalogue was given a gold award at the 2019 Estonian Design Awards in the category of Prints/Books and the Worthy Paper special prize, which praises how well and ingeniously the printing and material capabilities have been applied to achieve the end result. In addition, the poster of the exhibition was given a silver award in the Printed category.

Curators: Joanna Hoffmann, Hanna-Liis Kont
Exhibition design: Kaisa Sööt
Graphic design: Valter Jakovski