Item of the Month

6 April 2017 marks the 215th anniversary of the University of Tartu Natural History Museum, the oldest museum in Estonia. In celebration of this occasion, each month an item is selected from the museum's collection to be presented online as a 3D model. The museum, founded in 1802 as the university's Natural History Cabinet, has developed into a modern research and education centre that also comprises the university's Botanical Gardens.

Item of the Month: September 2017

Parasol mushroom. Macrolepiota procera (Scop.) Singer. 
Model built by Nikolay Witkowsky (1938). Ceramics, paint.
Height: 33 cm

Nikolay Witkowsky (1868–1948) was a well-known amateur mycologist, popularly known as the Mushroom Wizard. Witkowski, who had moved from Saint Petersburg to Estonia in the 1920s, was a mushroom expert possessing an unsurpassed knowledge of different edible and inedible mushrooms. He frequently offered his advice to the sellers at the farmer's market of Tartu, which also earned him his nickname.

Witkowsky's talent was discovered and channeled into academic research by Elmar Lepik, Professor of Botany of the University of Tartu, who hired him to work for the university's Institute of Botany.

Witkowsky went mushrooming every weekend from the last snow to the first, made 1:1 drawings of the specimens he had found and also built mushroom models. Witkowsky's mushroom models, which his professorial colleagues used as illustrative material when teaching, number over 100.

The project is curated by Inge Kukk.
The project is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.