Museum of Occupations to be expanded and renamed Vabamu (3)

Director of the Museum of Occupations Merilin Piirpuu, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Sten Tamkivi (Marko Poolamets/Okupatsioonide muuseum)
2/22/2016 4:13 PM
Category: Culture

With the support of the Kistler-Ritso family, the Museum of Occupations will be expanded and renamed. Next to the occupation periods, the newly created Vabamu will also concentrate on the restoration of Estonian independence as well as on the topic of freedom in general.

Beginning 2018, the current Museum of Occupations will be called Vabamu, and wants to "inspire people to appreciate their freedoms and stand up for them."

Construction work will begin in 2017, the new museum is planned to open in 2018, the Museum of Occupations announced.

With the change, the museum will more than double its present exhibition space by making use of collection storage as well as space currently taken up by the museum’s specialists.

Merilin Piipuu, the director of the museum, said that Vabamu would address the loss of freedom as well as the importance of appreciating it. She said she believed that it was the role of a museum to invite people to actively create their own future by reflecting on their past.

The Kistler-Ritso family have supported the museum for more than 13 years. The initial funding for its construction came from the Kistler-Ritso Foundation in Washington, D.C. Olga Kistler-Ritso, who fled the country in 1944, emigrated to the United States and later became a renowned ocular surgeon, donated about €2.5m towards the building of the museum.

The family are supporting the coming change of exhibitions as well. This makes the museum Estonia’s biggest based on private donations.

The plan was to build Vabamu based on donations entirely, Piipuu said, and that it was important that Estonians as well as friends elsewhere in the world could see that it belonged to everyone equally.

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand and many others are among the supporters of the financing campaign. The renewal of the exhibition is estimated to cost about €1.5m.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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