Department of Arts
Art has been a part of the curriculum of the University of Tartu since its reopening in 1802. Until 1891 it was one of the three official artschools in Russian Empire next to Art Academy of Peterseburg and University of Vilnius. Over time, the school was lead by Karl August Senff, August Matthias Hagen and Woldemar Friedrich Krüger.
Initially, drawing was meant to improve the observational and representional skills of medicine and nature students, but it soon developed into a cultural driver which helped establish the rising national art of the 19th century.
During 1919-1940 art education in Tartu was shared between University of Tartu which provided the theoretical bases and Higher Artschool Pallas which focused on practical skills. Art students had to attend both to receive a degree.
In 1944, during the Soviet occupation, Pallas was renamed State Art Institute of Tartu, but was eventually closed down in 1951 due to political reasons. Art life in Tartu withered - the young left to Tallinn and the established artists stagnated under the ruling ideological repression
After regaining independence in 1992 the political, economical and social changes in Estonia where drastic. Incidentally, the whole education system got a restart. To enrich the cultural landscape and offer an alternative to Tallinn a Cultural Center was founded in the University of Tartu as a part of the Faculty of Philosophy. This was later formed to Department of Arts.
In 1997 professorship in painting was created and Jaan Elken was elected to tenure.
In 1999 the Department of Arts moved to its own house at Lai 34 which provided its students with 24/7 open studios.
In 2002 the curriculum of Painting was reformed into 3+2 Bologna system.
In 2015 the Department of Art moved to the new premises at Lossi 38.