Collecting and preservation

The Estonian War Museum is a research centre for culture and military history whose main activities in addition to exhibiting include collecting, preserving and researching military history. The museum is commissioned with collecting materials and memories documenting Estonian military history and with preserving, conserving and restoring the registered museum exhibits.


The collections of the Estonian War Museum – General Laidoner Museum are new. The War Museum was established in January 1919 during the Estonian War of Independence. The extensive collections of the Museum of the Estonian War of Independence, later renamed the War Museum, were destroyed in the course of looting begun in 1940 and systematic pro‑Soviet destruction launched in 1950. Only single items remained from the earlier collections, which have now been deposited with the collection of the Estonian History Museum. Photographs were fortunately preserved in larger quantities and have now been deposited with the Estonian Film Archives (see: Fotis). 

After Estonia had restored its independence, a museum dedicated to General Laidoner, the Commander‑in‑Chief of the Estonian War of Independence was opened in 1994 in Viimsi.


The War Museum was restored in 2001, and the General Laidoner Museum in Viimsi was merged with the War Museum. At present, the War Museum collects, preserves, researches and exhibits Estonian military history and heritage, and records the history of the Estonian Defence Forces. When adding to the museum collections, we examine the relevance of the items, visual objects and artefacts for Estonian military history.

The War Museum actively collects materials related to Estonian military history. We are interested in materials that would add to exhibitions on earlier military history and on the Soviet period. We also collect materials from abroad that are linked to Estonian military history.


The museum collections contain:

  • over 30,000 photographs and negatives
  • over 400 uniforms and uniform details
  • 550 uniform insignia
  • over 400 awards and decorations
  • 1,000 topographical maps
  • 40,000 archival documents
  • over 7,500 library books on military history.

We are constantly updating the War Museum collections. If you are interested in a specific museum exhibit or archival document in our collection, please contact the museum and let us know your request. 

Liisi Ploom, Head of Collections