Digital Displays Walk Visitors through History at Estonia National Museum


The Estonian National Museum in Tartu installed more than 600 E Ink displays to provide information about Estonian culture and history. Visitors interact with the displays through NFC tickets and learn about Estonia in the language of their choice. The displays greatly enhance the visitor experience in the museum.

Nominating Company: E Ink Corporation, Billerica, Massachusetts
Venue: Estonia National Museum, Tartu, Estonia
Project: Estonia National Museum display network
Category: Public Spaces

The Estonian National Museum wanted to provide a personalized experience to visitors while spreading awareness of its country’s rich culture in visitors’ “own language.” To that end, they were searching for a solution that could show information in multiple languages and that could be changed as easily as pushing a button.

The 350-meter long, wedge-shaped building is made of glass, allowing natural light to filter in throughout the exhibit space. The museum wanted to install signs that blended in with the bright ambiance to maintain the integrity of the interiors and keep focus on the exhibits.

With more than 6,000 square meters of exhibition space and hundreds of exhibits, the solution needed to be sustainable to minimize the environmental impact.

The exhibits are spread out over a large area, and the museum did not want to install power at every location where a sign was needed. Solving the power constraints was one of the biggest challenges posed by this project.

The architects and designers of the museum wanted the signs to have a very small physical footprint and to resemble books. The industrial design of the signs was focused on being slim and lightweight so that they are out of the way of the artifacts. The intent was to provide a very natural reading experience to visitors. The challenge was to fit displays and electronics in a very tight space while meeting the architect’s vision.

E Ink’s paper-like displays were a natural choice for the museum.

The 6.8-inch, 9.7-inch and 32-inch black and white displays do not emit any light or glare and reflect the natural ambient light to show information. This made them blend right into the museum’s decor and kept the focus entirely on the exhibits.

E Ink’s signs require power only when changing the text on the displays and need no power to show static content. This made it possible to use Power over Ethernet (PoE), which eliminated the need for laying power throughout the museum.

To change the language, NFC readers were integrated into the displays. Visitors are provided with NFC tickets that they can simply wave over the displays to set their preferred language.

The displays are less than 2 millimeters thin and the smaller 6.8-inch and 9.7-inch displays weigh less than 1 gram, making them easy to fit into the tight industrial design.

Digital Displays Walk Visitors through History at Estonia National MuseumRESULTS
The ePaper signs enable visitors to enjoy a personalized tour in their language of choice through Estonian history simply by waving their tickets over the displays. The languages currently supported include Estonian, English and Russian with plans to add Finnish, Latvian, Italian, French and German in the near future.

The museum opened to the public on October 1st, 2016, and the signs have been enthusiastically received by museum-goers as well as the staff.

The story highlights the benefits of ePaper signage and the applications that its unique value proposition can enable.

Architects – 3 + 1 Architects
Integrator – Artec Design


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