Located in central Tallinn at the edge of the city’s Old Town district, the Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (or EKKM) is a cultural cauldron for artists and art lovers alike. A self-initiated institution of the Estonian art community, EKKM is a hub for playfulness and curiosity while always encouraging reflection – and it’s all free.

EKKM first took shape in 2006 when four ambitious creators took hold of a former, unused power plant and together started cleaning out the three-storey building. Although the group was initially just looking for a space to exhibit their work, the initiative took a stronger hold as Tallin’s Kumu Art Museum opened around the same time and left contemporary art fans unfulfilled. “There was a lot of excitement ahead of Kumu’s launch, but it turned out lacking in the contemporary area. And so EKKM set out to fill this void, gradually becoming the contemporary art museum it is today,” explains Evelyn Raudsepp, curator and project manager.

Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia: a monument for freedom

shelter – sanctuary, 2023. Photo: Paul Kuimet

When it comes to its mentality, EKKM inhabits the wide area between official state-funded art institutions and artist-run and do-it-yourself project spaces. Since 2007, EKKM has produced exhibitions that include a variety of displays, events and art projects, as well as collected, popularised and helped shape the field of contemporary art. By January 2024, EKKM had produced 89 exhibitions with the participation of 62 curators and 497 artists.

Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia: a monument for freedom

Trigger, 2024. Photo: Paul Kuimet

“We host 3-4 exhibitions per year, incorporating different aspects,” says Raudsepp. “For instance, an exhibition can be site-specific which allows the artist to use the building’s state as a foundation for their creativity. Whether they want to tear down walls or drill holes, they’re welcome to. Another aspect is radical curating, which means that we encourage strong authorship. To question and to challenge. The third and final aspect is to experience with experiment, which relates to thinking further from what a normal exhibition can be.”

Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia: a monument for freedom

Opening Jaanus Samma, 2023. Photo: Aron Urb

As part of EKKM, there is also a lush community garden. Here, the team hosts regular music programmes in summer, which move inside during winter (between exhibitions). There is also a bar which supports the museum’s profile as an electric meeting point for curious souls. So, pop by this summer to immerse yourself in contemporary art. A new exhibition opens on 14 June, and you’re invited.

Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia: a monument for freedom

Edith Karlson, 2021. Photo: Paul Kuimet

Web: www.ekkm.ee
Facebook: EKKM
Instagram: @ekkmtallinn

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