We visited the Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn, part of the Art Museum of Estonia, when we visited Estonia inÂ 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 isÂ best reached by a 40 minute walk from the Old Town which takes you through charming Kadriorg (Catherineâ€™s Valley) Park, where the magnificent palace and art museum can also be seen and/or visited.
Kumu Art Museum exterior
The Kumu Art Museum is an unashamedly huge 5-year old ultra-modernÂ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Modern sculptures at the Kumu
The 5.5 Euro charge covered cloakroom facilities.
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 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.
More Tips on Things to Do in Tallinn
You’ll find more tips in our Tallinn guide.
More on European Museums
Find out about more museums in Europe on Europe a la Carte.