The Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn, Estonia

We visited the Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn, part of the Art Museum of Estonia, when we visited Estonia in  March 2011, staying at the Barons Hotel in the Old Town. The museum is one of our recommended “Ten Things to Do in Tallinn“. This fascinating modern building is  best reached by a 40 minute walk from the Old Town which takes you through charming Kadriorg (Catherine’s Valley) Park, where the magnificent palace and art museum can also be seen and/or visited.

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

Kumu Art Museum exterior

The Kumu Art Museum is an unashamedly huge 5-year old ultra-modern  building, which fills its vast spaces with a unique mixture of pure Estonian art from various stages in its history and currently-themed temporary exhibitions.

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

Tallinn Art Museum posters from various exhibitions

We initially experienced the ‘For Love Not Money’ 15th Tallinn Print Triennial, featuring artistic takes on issues like family, politics, religion, fetishes, sex, yearning and dependency.

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

This exhibition was over two floors, the 2nd and 5th, and a good mix of artists was represented. Keeping in with the Estonian/Russian/Baltic themes, one of the exhibits featured a woman’s memories through 80 years of political change in the form of a cartoon character looking at a life-long collection of cards, while another featured allegories through sexual life, experiences and birth. Print shape co-mingling with context was explored in several, most unexpected, forms.

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

Sculptures amongst paintings at Kumu art Museum

The ‘Difficult choices’ permanent exhibition of Estonian Art from 1945-1991, covering the Soviet occupation era, struck several chords and familiar faces like the Russian Marxist revolutionary, economic theorist, political philosopher, author and lawyer Vladimir Ilyich Lenin as well as the head of the Politburo Stalin were amongst Estonian notables in the form of either a painting or bust.

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

The oppression of Estonians and their agony and spirit of fight and despair comes through clearly in these artistic representations, some of the most vivid and disturbing of the paintigs being life-size. As there was little/no influence from the West during this era, some of the works also rerpresented most unusual departures.

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

Some of the busts in a discrete area containing over 100

The Treasury permanent exhibition covered earlier Estonian art, approximately 18th century to 1945, and it was fascinating to note the similarities, influences and differences between it and styles predominating in the West during the same time period.

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

Exhibits with local character at the Kumu

‘The Colours of Light’ exhibition on the 3rd floor examined the functions of these elements as classic forms of expression in painting, as well as interpretations by Estonian artists during the pre-WW2 period.

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

Modern sculptures at the Kumu

The 5.5 Euro charge covered cloakroom facilities.

Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn

Some of the posters exhibited at the Kumu

A charming modern little cafe at the 1st floor by the auditorium, with lovely views over the grounds and Kadriorg Park, completed the rich experience.

Model of Kumu Art Museum, Tallin

Model of the Kumu Art Museum and its grounds

In my opinion, the Kumu Art Museum is a ‘must see‘ Tallinn museum during a visit to the city. I’d recommend that you leave at least 3 hours in order to take in the experience.

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