If you want to get a short overview of the history of Tallinn, head to the City Museum. It’s housed in a medieval merchant’s house in the Old Town, so it’s easy to incorporate it into a walk around the Old Town. it’s really well done and has exhibits from the middle ages to Estonian independence. Some parts of the exhibit are interactive and great for children.
The City Museum does a nice job presenting Tallinn’s history from its very beginning till today, using a mix of information panels, models and artifacts to make it more interesting than most history museums. Some of the exhibits that stood out most for me are the following: At ground level is the large model of the Old Town, giving you an excellent overview of the layout and the main sights you can see on a walking tour! On the next level up is an interactive exhibit of life in the middle ages with good information of the crafts and guilds at the time. This exhibit is especially good for kids, making it easier and more interesting to understand the times. Heading further up brings you to the more modern history, from independence after World War I to regained independence in 1991. If the Museum of Occupations sounds like too much for you, you’ll get the summary version here and should absolutely see it before you leave Tallinn.
The City Museum is open from 10:30 – 18:00 (last entrance at 17:30 and closed on Mondays. The fee is EUR3.20. There are audio guides available, but the exhibits are well documented and you can do without. There is a web site, but it’s not working too well, so check out “Visit Tallinn” instead!
If you have limited time in Tallinn and only plan to visit one museum, I’d make it the City Museum: It’s a great location in the Old Town, gives you a sampling of the medieval history and the fight for independence, and all of that in not too much time! Enjoy it while you are there