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Estonian National Museum wins top European award

The ERM team receiving the Kenneth Hudson award.
The ERM team receiving the Kenneth Hudson award. Source: Photo: Ineta Zelca Simansone

The Estonian National Museum (ERM) clinched the Kenneth Hudson prize for second place in the European Museum of the Year Awards (EMYA) in Warsaw, Poland at the weekend. Top prize went to the London Design Museum.

Speaking the gala ceremony on Saturday evening, EMYA jury chair and European Museum Forum board member José Gameiro noted how the ERM preserves and interprets memories in a way that makes the museum an inclusive and creative learning environment for all.

"The ERM is engaged in a complex and controversial history, and sees its main task of collecting and preserving memories in order to create a new way of having a cultural dialogue which links the past with the future," Gameiro explained.

"The ERM has given the concept of a national museum a new meaning through a dialogue-based, multi-voiced and participatory approach to cultural history," he went on.

ERM Director Alar Karis said that: "The Kenneth Hudson Prize is one of Europe's most important museum awards give to innovative projects and museums which bring people to the fore and which provoke discussion."

With the creation of the ERM, one of the main aims was to bring the National Museum into the 21st century. On Saturday, we were confirmed that we are on the right track," Karis added.

He also noted that the award was a great honour for the ERM and the whole of Estonia alike.

"Our National Museum is a nationally unique and state-of-the-art museum which has been held up as an exapmle to other museums in Europe," he said.

"Recognition, of course, also serves as a mark of trustworthiness for the museum and brings additional responsibility for its continued development ," Karis added.

The Kenneth Hudson Award was created in 2010 in honour of the founder of the EMYA and is one of the major awards in the competition. The prize is awarded to the museum which has challenged the traditional image of museums in society with notably unusual, bold or controversial achievements. The Kenneth Hudson Prize winner is chosen by the European Museums Forum Board of Trustees, which includes experienced museums and cultural experts from all over Europe.

The ERM is located on the outskirts of Tartu on a former airfield, which in turn was the location of the original Estonian National Museum during the period of the first Estonian Republic, and opened its doors to the public in October 2016. In February of this year it hosted the President's reception for the 100th Centenary of Estonian Independence.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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