Skip to main content


Noora is the new main building of the National Archives located in Tartu. The first syllable of the name Noora refers to its location in Nooruse Street and the second syllable is an abbreviation of the National Archives (Rahvusarhiiv in Estonian). The planning of the building’s project started late in 2010, and construction work began in December 2014. Noora had its cornerstone laid on 15 April 2015 and was officially opened on 1 February 2017.

The architects of Noora are Sander Aas and Illimar Truverk. The building was a cooperation project involving three architecture companies: Asum Arhitektid OÜ, Arhitekt11 OÜ, and Vaikla Stuudio OÜ. The contracting authority was Riigi Kinnisvara Aktsiaselts (State Real Estate Ltd) and the contractor was YIT Ehitus.

Noora in numbers:

  • Size of the plot: 13,599 m²
  • Floors: 6 Total area: 10,708 m²
  • Total volume: 50,000 m³
  • Repository area: 5,800 m²
  • Repositories: 26
  • Shelf meters in total: ca 43,000 m
  • Number of employees: 85


  • Reading room with 26 seats
  • Two rooms for teamwork, each with 8 seats
  • Seminar room with 32 seats
  • A technically equipped conference room to be used for public events
  • Excursions to repositories
  • Archival lessons for schools
  • Permanent and temporary exhibitions

Home of Estonia’s written memory

Noora is the home of Estonia’s written memory. The oldest record preserved – a parchment concerning tithes by Eric IV of Denmark – dates back to the year 1240. The nationwide important archival records and the records of local and family history have now excellent storage conditions. In addition to the paper-based archival records, Noora also holds contemporary digital records for future generations. The holdings preserved in Noora can be accessed via online self-service portal of the archives or by visiting a reading room. Excursions to the repositories are also available.


The front side of Noora is covered with a fascade textile presenting a groove motif.

A groove is a pattern of carved memories, a grooved trace of the maze of time. A script created to hold and protect. A groove echoes the brain structure, symbolising the processes of thinking and remembering. It poses a question, grooves a solution. A groove describes the process of exploration, as well as the dents, twists and turns, and triumphs of research. It creates excitement, enthusiasm and joy. A groove is a game that invites you to explore the archives.

Authors of the groove design are Fred Kotkas and Carmen Lansberg.

Epic Story

The ground floor of Noora presents a sound installation that uses the building, employees and location of the archives as activating pulses.

An epic story is total – it refers to identity; stories transmitted in spacetime, a cosmological sense of the world, permanence and development. The sound installation symbolises the continuance of an epic story as a form of memory characteristic of the inhabitants of the geographical area. An organic and monumental measure of space modelled with sound.

Authors of the sound art are Kiwa (Jaanus Kivaste) and Martin Kikas.

Twists and Turns

A permanent exposition and temporary exhibitions of the National Archives are on display in the foyer of Noora.

Exhibition “Twists and Turns” (Keerdkäigud in Estonian) glimpses at the pivotal years for Estonia 1917–1920. A labyrinth-shaped journey runs through spacetime, where the lives of decision-makers and common people, as well as the birth story of Estonian state and parallel events in world history all intertwine. In addition, these events are observed by the sharp-eyed Amalie Planken.

Curator of the exhibition is Liina Rebassoo.