Join us for a Visitor's Review of the fantastic art museum Kumu in Tallinn, Estonia, one of the largest art museums in Northern Europe.
Welcome to a very interesting Visitor's Review of the the largest art museum in Estonia and one of the largest in Northern Europe. "Kumu" is short for KUnsti MUuseum, "museum of art” in Estonian, and it is one of the five branches of the national Art Museum of Estonia preserving and interpreting Estonian art from the 18th century to the present day.
In the museum you will see Estonian art from the 18th century onwards, including works from the occupation period (1940–1991) showing both socialist realism and what was then nonconformist art. Given the great walls and excellent content, it was no wonder that the museum received the prestigious European Museum of the Year Award of 2008 from the European Museum Forum.
The building was designed by Pekka Vapaavuori whose proposal Circles won the architecture competition with a circular building around a large and lofty atrium. The museum was built in 2003–2006 and we are happy to confirm once again that we are talking about a museum building that is both beautiful and practical making your visit a true pleasure!
Follow our path to the third floor and start your stroll through the museum with the Baltic German artistic heritage from the 18th and 19th centuries and move on to the Estonian national art from the first half of the 20th century. The fourth floor is very interesting for today's visitor with some time-bound Soviet Estonian art. The fifth floor takes you to contemporary Estonian Art.
Do not forget to check the Great Hall on the ground floor of the museum to see the temporary exhibitions at the atrium near the ticket counter. Every year, up to ten temporary historical and contemporary exhibitions of art from Estonia and abroad are organized there.
The national Art Museum of Estonia was founded in 1919 and it got its first permanent building, the Kardriorg Palace in 1921. After Estonia regained independence in 1991, the parliament decided to have a new building for the national Art Museum since the Palace had fallen into almost complete disrepair during the Soviet Occupation of Estonia. Today the renovated palace, the Kadriorg Art Museum houses the foreign art collection of the Art Museum.
As a curiosity item, the museum served as one of the locations for the fictional Oslo Freeport for the 2020 film Tenet.
We were pleased to see that the museum is fully wheelchair-friendly: lifts and ramps take visitors from one floor to the next. With advance notice, a bus for handicapped visitors will drive you into the inner courtyard. You can leave your car at the parking place for the disabled in Mäekalda Street. You can find toilets for the disabled in the lobby on the first floor, on the second floor next to the cloakroom, and on the fifth floor near the lifts.
After the tour, check the very good museum shop selling jewellery, textiles, glass and ceramics by Estonian designers and artists - you can find some fancy stuff to take home or as gifts for your favourite friends.
After the visit, you definitely want to have a look at the Reval Café in the first floor, near the Kardiorg park side entrance. It is truly a great place for lunch with a daily special and a soup on weekdays and a wide selection of baked goods, confections and salads.
Visit and photos by Vesa Turunen
Eesti Kunstimuuseum KUMU
Weizenbergi 34 / Valge 1, 10127 Tallinn