Role of Community in Creating Process of Museum
The Estonian Road museum was founded by Estonian Road Administration and opened to public in 2005. Due to the location in a former Varbuse postal station, on an old Tartu-Võru postal road, part of research work and exhibit dedicated to the history of postal service in Estonia. The Varbuse postal station, protected as an architectural monument, consists of five ground stone and red brick buildings. They are the main building of the postal station and a coach house, a stable, a blacksmith's shop, a sauna, a laundry room and a dwelling for postmen and saddlers. To exhibit the museum's road construction machines, a 1000m² exhibition hall was built. New open-air exhibition was opened in 2010.
The idea to collect data about the history of Estonian roads dates back to 1980s. Through several decades the initiator and carrier of the idea to establish a road museum was a legendary road engineer Aadu Lass. He wrote articles and overviews about roads and road organisations, started collecting photos and archival materials and also inspired other colleagues to join. However, the Road Museum was not created until the end of the 1990s. When choosing the location, the Varbuse postal station with its dignified and long history was found to be suitable.
The foundation of the museum started in 2000 by the appointment of the Museum’s Supervisory Board; a team of three members started to work the very next year.
The persistent gathering collections started in 2001.The main purpose was to determine remained road building machinery and select more valuable for museum exposition. It was urgent to find road maintenance machinery and equipment. Large number of machinery were utilized or destroyed. Fortunately the information spread among people during making the museum and a volunteer donating began. First of all documents, photos and smaller items were donated. The museum also received invaluable support from national network of museum representatives. They gathered essential information about location and potential owners of exhibits.
Museum staff in conjunction with technical experts started gradually restoration and conservation of chosen items and machinery.
Today thanks to the sense of mission of road builders from time to time we get information about interesting exhibits, sufficient for the museum. Different road firms are interested in donating their old machinery to the road museum instead selling them.