Kohtla-Järve Museum of Oil Shale is an academic museum that was established in 1966. Its visitors have access to a permanent display that reflects the formation of oil shale as a rock, as well as the history of its mining industry and the present value of oil shale.
In the museum collection, at the disposal of researchers, there are more than 27’000 units. In addition to the articles of economic history are more than 600 works of art, the oldest of which dates back to the 1920’s.
In May 2006 a database was set up to house a digital representation of the collection at the museum. Since then items have been added to this digital store, same year Museum of Oil Shale web site have been published on Internet. As of 2008, this site has made an English version available to its users.
Since the 1st of October 2006 the structure of the museum has been altered to accommodate several other independent units used to organize art exhibitions. One example of this is Kohtla-Järve White Hall, formerly the City Gallery, whose main task was organization of art exhibitions in cooperation with Kohtla-Järve Artist Association. Yet another example is the Virtual Branch of the State Russian Museum, whose objective was the organization of virtual excursions. Currently the collection houses more than 50 units of video materials detailing both Russian and world-wide cultural heritage.
As of October 2006 a project translating finished programs to Estonian was started. At the same time an active search of contacts with other museums across Europe was made in order to enrich the museum’s video material collection. There is currently a permanent collaboration with the schools of Kohtla-Järve, and indeed with IT and Art teachers.
Since 2007, the Museum of Oil Shale has been situated in Kukruse village. This location is very symbolic as there has been a history of mining of oil shale in Kukruse for 90 years. Another important factor has been the immediate vicinity of the Tallinn – St. Petersburg highway.
In the future a chief task of the museum is the digitization of its collection into databases. It is hoped that this will create, in collaboration with its partners, several virtual teaching and excursion programs on the subject of economic history, all available in several different languages.