Minister: National museum staff won't be involved in appointing new chief

Minister of Culture Anneli Ott.
Minister of Culture Anneli Ott. Source: ERR

Culture minister Anneli Ott (Center) has ruled out National Museum of Estonia (ERM) staff having a say in the choice of the museum's new director, to replace Alar Karis, who will be Estonia's next president.

Ott said that:  "I can confirm that the committee, made up of top managers and officials from the Ministry of Culture, representatives of other museums and experts in the field of culture, will perform its work professionally and take into account the needs and interests of the museum."

Marju Reismaa, the ministry's museum adviser, took the same line. "The ministry did not consider it right that the employees of the institution choose a manager," she said.

The ERM's staff union had appealed to the culture ministry to have a representative on the committee with full rights, in selecting the next director. This had happened in 2017 when Karis was chosen, the union said.

"The presence of an authorized trade union representative on the selection board is the best way to ensure that the rights and interests of ERM staff are protected in the selection process and decision-making," the address had read.

The competitive process applications deadline was Sunday; nine applications have been received, while, Reismaa said, drawing up a shortlist for those invited to interview, the interviews themselves and the appointment itself would take about another month.

Since there is an acting ERM director, Rein Kinkar, the museum's finance director, on an indeterminate term, the process would not be rushed, she said.

Of potential candidates, the only hints made public are in the negative – Tõnis Lukas, who preceded Alar Karis and later became culture minister from 2019 to this year, and another former director, Krista Aru, have not submitted applications, saying they are satisfied with their current roles. Aru said she was on the brink of sending an application before having a change of heart. She has only been in her current post, head of the University of Tartu library, for six months.

Alar Karis had to step down as museum director on being elected President of Estonia at the end of August, and enters office on October 11.

The ERM is based in Tartu and has been in its purpose-built facility on the outskirts of that city since 2016.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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