A visitor of Saaremaa who is able to navigate past the roadside attractions and shake off the relaxing lure of Kuressaare in order to head for Kihelkonna, can discover a secret corner of the island that has, over time, amassed a multitude of natural and cultural marvels.
Between the Vilsandi National Park and the Viidumäe Nature Reserve, in the village of Viki, 28 km from Kuressaare, there is the Mihkli Farm Museum. It is one of the most unique museums in Estonia in that it did not require any collection effort to establish the exposition. In addition to the set of buildings, which is the result of life and work of eight generations, there is a diverse assortment of everyday items on display.
The farm in Western Saaremaa, featuring a range of typical farm buildings, became a museum in 1959. Its last owner, Jakob Reht (1886–1969), donated the historical household and its preserved ethnographic items to the Saaremaa Local History Museum, as it was known back then, becoming the first employee of the new farm museum. In a way, this fulfilled his prophetic prediction, “While all farms disappear, Mihkli will still be here.”
With its aura of ancient times, an environment full of traces of ancestors and an oddly comforting milieu, the Mihkli Farm Museum has its own distinct character. It lives, breathes and grows, welcoming curious visitors of all ages. Many of them come back again and again because of the good energy of this place. Others leave with a deeply felt sense of gratitude, as seeing how our ancestors lived gives us greater appreciation for our own lives.
For over half a century, the museum built on the Mihkli Farm has been creating its own history. A prominent part of its work involves traditional cultural events, such as the Saaremaa Summer Party where local folk dancers have fun on the green grass of the farm in the first half of July, or the Mihkli Fair on the last Saturday in September.
In 2019, the barn of the Mihkli Farm Museum underwent a minor renovation, with the addition of a cosy and always warm tirrutuba (‘lamb room’) that offers a nice space for workshops, small concerts and gatherings. The chamber at the end of the dwelling-house, reno- vated in 2020, includes a tiny museum shop that sells tickets,
The farmyard territory offers many more possibilities for activities – camps, summer resorts, concerts or more intimate events can be organised on the recreational ground that includes a windmill, a picnic house, a sauna and a village swing. Local natural attractions can be observed in the small ‘peasant park’, which is essentially a wooded meadow.
Mitte ainult taluõuega piirduv mitmekülgne territoorium pakub võimalusi veelgi – tuuliku, piknikumaja, sauna ja külakiigega puhkeplatsil saab korraldada laagreid, suvepäevi, kontserte või intiimsemaid sündmuseid. Võib tulla ka lihtsalt telkima.
Puhkeala kõrval, pisikeses talupojapargis (ehk puisniidul), saab kohalikku loodust nautida ja omi mõtteid mõlgutada.
Last summer, the audience received an unforgettable experience when the Kuressaare Theatre staged a play based on “The Flowering Sea” by August Mälk, with producer Madis Kalmet combining the plot and characters of the novel with the milieu of the archaic farm. Anyone hoping to experience this magic again can dangle their feet on the pier that was built for the production or pose for photos in front of the fishnet-drying frames.
If you would like to get a sense of the life, beliefs and ancient wisdom of our ancestors, make your way to the Mihkli Farm Museum in the village of Viki.
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