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Alar Karis elected director of Estonian National Museum

Alar Karis at the Ministry of Culture on Friday. Oct. 27, 2017.
Alar Karis at the Ministry of Culture on Friday. Oct. 27, 2017. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Estonian Auditor General Alar Karis has been chosen by a committee to replace Tõnis Lukas as the new director of the Estonian National Museum (ERM).

Karis has told ERR that one of his priorities is focusing on research, cooperation with other museums and research institutions as well as the development of the museum's international dimension. Karis has also previously stated that he believed ERM should change its legal status from national to public museum.

Ministry of Culture Secretary General Paavo Nõgene, chairman of the committee that elected the new museum director, told reporters that deliberations were lengthy. "Both candidates provided an in-depth overview of their plans," he said. "There were two very strong candidates — it was not an easy decision."

The committee's decision was by consensus, i.e. no vote took place. "Although ERM's current director Tõnis Lukas has done good work, and he is to be commended, the deciding factor was ultimately Karis' far-reaching vision," Nõgene said, explaining the committee's choice. "Lukas also had a very good vision, but the committee has the thankless task of making a choice."

Karis' term as auditor general will conclude next April. According to Nõgene, when exactly Karis will take over as director of ERM will depend on the agreement he reaches with the Minister of Culture, who will be signing his employment contract, at which point his salary will also be determined.

Karis, 58, has previously served as rector of and professor at the University of Tartu and the Estonian University of Life Sciences, but has also worked as a researcher at a number of universities abroad. He received his degree in veterinary medicine. He is married to Estonian History Museum director Sirje Karis, with whom he has three children.

After receiving word regarding the selection committee's decision, Lukas said on social media that he thanked everyone who has loved ERM alongside him. "I love my work and I have done it for all the people," he said. "And what could I have against it, then, that one member of this people, Alar Karis, picks the fruits of my labor?"

Speaking to ERR, Lukas added that the selection process for the new director of ERM was "a bit too opaque."

Lukas' term as ERM director will end in mid-January 2018. The new director's term will be five years in length.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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