Estonian National Museum wants to host 200,000 visitors

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Estonian National Museum. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

According to the new development plan of the Estonian National Museum (ERM), 200,000 people will visit them in 2025, and the museum is also planning to contribute more to research and hoping to start using the Raadimõisa building (ERM was previously situated in the Raadi Manor from 1922 - 1944) as shared storage.

Due to the pandemic, the number of visitors decreased to 95,000. The director of ERM, Alar Karis, explained that the number of visitors isn't a goal in itself. It's important to find a balance to educate people and offer entertainment to attract more people, he said.

"There is a great opportunity at ERM to get educated and obtain knowledge, but also a little entertainment. If you ask what's the situation right now, then our permanent exhibition, which was meant to be more mobile at first, hasn't changed at a pace as we would have liked to. We definitely have to deal with it. Then the permanent exhibition would bring back people," Karis said.

Karis' predecessor as director of ERM, Krista Aru, does not blame Karis, but says that ERM has a lot of unused potential. For example, the museum should cooperate more with the education system, Estonian minorities and the museum's role as a representative building of Tartu should be more important, she says. Aru considers 200,000 visitors a realistic number but says it requires a lot of effort.

"The content can be very instructive, educational. This will probably remain the case with ERM. But we can present it all in a modern, attractive, fascinating form. Even in the old days, we argued a lot about where does this border go. Updates shouldn't be anything to fear. There can also be entertaining innovations. They have to come; time goes on. We can't get stuck in this kind of showcase-style exhibition," she said.

Alar Karis hopes that in 2024, the museum will receive €30 million from the state to build shared storage of South Estonian museums on the ruins of Raadi Manor together with the National Heritage Board.

"In other words, it's not curated exhibitions, but the items in the shared storage are then all for people to see," Karis said.

Former culture minister and another former ERM director, Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa), says he is satisfied with the development plan. In Lukas' opinion, many of the goals set during his tenure will be continued. When the spread of the virus decreases, Lukas says he hopes to see exhibitions that will also receive more international attention.

"In the coming years, we should find time, place and space for some very strong international cultural exhibitions, which have not existed in northern Europe for a long time," Lukas said.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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