Time Travel as a pilot project for schoolchildren in Tartu, Estonia

In the end of May first Time Travel to medieval times took place in Tartu. Estonian National Museum together with Tartu City Museum were testing this type of active learning method in order to develop the new programmes for the open‐air museum area. The participants were 10 year old pupils of Tartu Catholic Education Centre together with some parents and museum educators. In 1399, he blooming medieval town Dorpat was preparing for the annual knight tournament and some important guests were
expected to come.

During the preparations the pupils learned that there is very little we know about the life of rural people settled in Estonia. They prepared to be the children of craftsmen and merchants of German origin (on that day speaking Estonian though). Estonian language was not spoken in towns for a very long time. The knowledge about being local or a foreigner and how that was defined in medieval times was given to the children before the time travel took place.

Can we trust the local people who speak different language more than a foreigner speaking the same language? Are we ready to accept new people from foreign countries? How do we feel about their style and habits? These were the key questions we discussed.

Children of the town were gathered in order to learn new skills and prepare some gifts for a rich merchant Hildebrand von Veckinghusen from Brugge who was visiting his birth place on his way to Novgorod. There was also a catholic friar talking about the holy places he had visited, an armorsmith presenting his work and an apothecary introducing the medicine against the plague. There were two ladies who showed how to make new fashionable coronas and how to weave a ribbon. When Hildebrand von Veckinghusen and his wife arrived, they were given still slightly wet egg tempera painting with the view of Dorpat and some woollen ribbons.

The organisers got valuable knowledge out of this Time Travel and the children enjoyed the day. They appreciated the relaxed atmosphere, games they played, good food and things they did with their own hands.

Saale Randaru, Kaari Siemer
Estonian National Museum, Tartu, Estonia