Puppetry is a hugely popular art form in the Baltic states and I was keen to see a performance. Lucky for us, our apartment in Tallinn was located just a couple of blocks away from the NUKU Theatre which houses a puppet museum, a puppet research center, puppet making workshops and several theatres. Unlucky for us, the only performance they were holding was one rated for ages 3+. Despite my insistence that I fell into the “+” age category, my travel partner was not willing to hand over the euros to buy the tickets for a children’s play. I was able to convince him to at buy tickets to visit the museum and it was worth every euro we paid!
The museum’s extensive puppet and marionette collection includes those created in-house as well as pieces from around the world. Here, you can see shadow puppets from Indonesia, bunraku puppets from Japan and exquisite old world European puppets. The museum is highly interactive – there are kiosks where you can create your own puppet profile and several of the marionettes are rigged so they can actually perform movements that you select. Don’t forget to visit the more ghoulish puppets in the basement!
As fun as it was to walk through the museum, I was particularly fascinated watching the puppet makers at work in the workshops that are housed on the first floor.
Whether or not you’re lucky enough to be able to catch a performance at NUKU, the museum is indeed worth the time. It’s a nice change of pace from sightseeing in Tallinn!