7 Steps to Happiness with Interactive Museum Hopping

While our lives are becoming increasingly digital, with a growing number of hours spent on social media, online shopping and mobile parking, museums struggle to attract visitors and convince them to attend their brick-and-mortar premises – not just Facebook pages or YouTube channels.

Many museums develop interactive audio guides or smartphone apps to keep visitors interested. Mariann Raisma, Head of the Board of University of Tartu Museums, admitted that she and her colleagues are not impressed by this popular approach: “Why virtualise unique historic environments if we can offer real and authentic, even life-changing experiences in our museums?”

After a consuming brainstorming session, the staff of UT museums came up with an interactive museum hopping package that aims to bring visitors closer to a deeper understanding of self, everyday life, and happiness – all of that in real life, meaning offline.

1. Visit the stuffed animals’ shelter.

The university’s Natural History Museum is undergoing an extensive renovation, and its collection of stuffed animals is abandoned, totally unattended. Make a surprise visit to see the trapped creatures.

Packing in the stuffed animals at the UT Natural History Museum. Photo by Ove Maidla.

Packing in the stuffed animals at the UT Natural History Museum. Photo: Ove Maidla.

2. Fight for animals’ rights and get involved in a duel.

You have probably heard of the time when people defended their honour at duels. It’s not quite like writing anonymous comments, huh? Take a deep breath and brace yourself with dignity.

The wounded students waiting for the rescue. Photo by Inga Külmoja.

Wounded students waiting for their rescue. Photo: Inga Külmoja.

3. Risk your life in a river ambulance.

We all know how easy it is to Google every little symptom of illness that we seem to have, particularly when bored to death by our studies or work. Try something different this time: Have your wound cured in a river ambulance, and don’t complain if student interns happen to be on duty that day.

Medical students cure patients in a river ambulance. Photo by Inga Külmoja.

Medical students cure patients in a river ambulance. Photo: Inga Külmoja.

 4. Be treated like a medieval celebrity.

If you have not been living under a rock (meaning you have checked Facebook regularly), then you should know that a well-preserved medieval tomb was discovered in the lobby of the University of Tartu Museum (previously a cathedral) last week. According to our archeologist Heiki Valk, the tomb’s position indicates that someone related to the church, such as a high official, was interred there. Now this unique opportunity is yours – lie down in the tomb and feel like a medieval celebrity for an hour.

Medieval tomb

Lie down and feel like a medieval celebrity. Photo: Andres Tennus.

5. Move closer to paradise.

Now rise a couple of floors, enter the white hall, and you’ll hear your favourite piano music played just for you. A big dish of the very best strawberries is complimentary. Priceless.

strawberries in the white hall

Music and strawberries, just for you. Photo: Andres Tennus.

6. Get locked up, think eternal.

Okay, it’s time to stop pretending that you are in paradise. Get your due punishment in the university’s lock-up. You’ll receive three weeks for a duel – plenty of time to ponder the meaning of your life and the universe.

Jüri, a 19th-century student

Although it was allowed to take along books and study, many students spent their time in contemplation. Photo: Inga Külmoja

7. Take a seat and relax.

You deserve it – take a seat and look around. Isn’t our Botanical Garden gorgeous with all this snow in April? Let the sun shine down on you. Don’t you feel happy?!

The inviting purity of snow at UT Botanical Garden. Photo by Inga Külmoja.

The inviting purity of snow at UT Botanical Garden. Photo: Inga Külmoja.

Oh, one more thing. No devices, including smartphones, tablets, and Google glasses are allowed. Sharing your museum experience is permitted strictly in person only, otherwise expect a hefty fine. Yes, you can pay it online.

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