Published 06/02/2024 | 16:45

The Kumu Art Museum’s exhibition Art in the Age of the Anthropocene was recognised as the Exhibition of the Year 2023

Art in the Age of the Anthropocene was awarded the Museum Rat for the Exhibition of the Year 2023. Photo: Haide Rannakivi

The Kumu Art Museum’s exhibition Art in the Age of the Anthropocene was awarded the Museum Rat for the Exhibition of the Year 2023 at the gala of the Estonian museums’ annual awards in the Pärnu Concert Hall.

Open from May to October last year, the largest exhibition in Estonia to examine the relationship between art and the environment explored the possibilities of art in an era of environmental crisis. According to the curator Linda Kaljundi, every exhibition, and especially such a large and experimental exhibition as Art in the Age of the Anthropocene, is a collective creation: “An immense number of wonderful people have contributed to this: from curators and designers to the exhibition team, as well as the creators and facilitators of both visitor and educational programmes. The Museum Rat is a prize for all of them!”

Kaljundi highlighted the role of Eha Komissarov, the initiator of the idea of the exhibition, who emphasised that if this sort of exhibition were to be held at all, it ought to be done ambitiously. “Being in America right now and seeing how even the large world-famous museums are still looking for ways to deal with the environment and sustainability, I am able to appreciate even more so at a distance not only the Anthropocene exhibition and the Art Museum of Estonia’s green group, but also the contribution of the Estonian museum landscape as a whole and the good opportunities for developing sustainable practices. It is often easier to implement big changes in smaller institutions! My special thanks go to Karin Vicente for taking the lead in making these changes!” said Kaljundi.

According to Kadi Polli, the Director of the Kumu Art Museum, the award for Kumu’s exhibition Art in the Age of the Anthropocene is a great recognition. “This shows that the exhibition did much more than usual: it was important, it touched and changed the world beyond the borders of the exhibition hall, and it had an impact on the wider museumscape,” Polli noted. The exhibition brought together environmental and art historians, artists and architects, and together they explored the pictorial heritage related to environmental issues in the collections of Estonian museums. It also inspired several new works of art that were specially created for the Kumu Art Museum exhibition. “In Kumu, the Art Museum of Estonia, and all Estonian museums, the exhibition also initiated the mapping of the museum’s environmental impact and the formulation of the principles of its sustainable operation, including the creation of sustainable exhibitions. In 2022, Kumu was the first museum in Estonia to receive the green museum certificate. In 2023, following the example of Art in the Anthropocene Era, a pioneering sustainable exhibition model for all local museums was completed,” Polli stated, pointing out the broader impact of the exhibition.

The Museum Rat’s nominees for Exhibition of the Year included the Estonian National Museum’s exhibition Right Body, Wrong Body? and the Museum of Tallinn University of Technology’s exhibition Ain Toim. The Art of Engineering.

Exhibition team
Curators: Linda Kaljundi, Eha Komissarov, Ulrike Plath, Bart Pushaw and Tiiu Saadoja
Curator of Green Practices: Karin Vicente
Exhibition Design: LLRRLLRR (Laura Linsi and Roland Reemaa)
Graphic Design: Maria Muuk
Coordinator: Triin Tulgiste-Toss
Senior art handler: Aleksander Meresaar

Working group of the exhibition: Isabel Aaso-Zahradnikova, Richard Adang, Andres Amos, Kaarel Eelma, Pärtel Eelma, Siim Hiis, Darja Jefimova, Liisa Kaljula, Juta Kivimäe, Maris Klaas, Kaie Kukk, Kaja Kährik, Tambet Kütt, Uku Langebraun, Liina Lepik, Ahti Lill, Tõnis Medri, Alar Nurkse, Margit Pajupuu, Kristina Papstel, Kaisa-Piia Pedajas, Johann Põldra, Renita Raudsepp, Brigita Reinert, Agathe Marie Sarap, Mati Schönberg, Sirje Säär, Laura Tahk, Elnara Taidre, Allan Talu, Eva Tammekivi, Kail Timusk, Avatar Translation Bureau, Uve Untera, Tõnu Uusküla, Hendrik Vahter, Ave Vellesalu, Raivo Väliste and Jelena Yurieva

Authors of the exhibition texts: Liisa Kaljula, Linda Kaljundi, Eha Komissarov, Ulrike Plath, Bart Pushaw, Ingrid Ruudi, Tiiu Saadoja, Elnara Taidre and Eda Tuulberg