Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia (EKKM) is a self-initiated contemporary art institution, primarily functioning as a public non-profit exhibition space and an unabashedly idiosyncratic art museum. It is founded on an unconventional idea of a contemporary art museum with the aim of exhibiting, collecting, creating and enabling contemporary art, while trying to subvert the established working methods, unwritten rules and methods of exhibition-making, prevalent in the field of art and culture.
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. EKKM has maintained its identity as a flexible and versatile institution, adapting to changes and inevitabilities as they come along – starting out as a punk or half-squatted museum, at times functioning both as an experimental and a more traditional Kunsthalle and ending up in the state it currently is. To this date, EKKM has managed to avoid defining itself in a too narrow or overly definitive manner.
For a generation of younger artists, curators and art students, EKKM started out as a means to establish themselves; an institution that conjoined two things that were not tended to at the time – the name Contemporary Art Museum of Estonia and a run-down three-storey industrial building just at the edge of Tallinn Old Town. Since 2007, EKKM has produced exhibition seasons that include a variety of exhibitions, events and art projects, as well as collected, popularised and helped shape the field of contemporary art. By January 2021, EKKM had produced 76 exhibitions with the participation of 42 curators and 431 artists.
Alongside exhibition projects EKKM organises summerly residencies since 2022 for artists to engage with the public garden and the unique archaeology of the exhibition house. This residency projects aim to tangle critical and burning socio-political topics. In 2022, Gisèle Gonon participated in the residency and her project “Against the Grain” was installed in the community garden of EKKM, acting as an agricultural artwork that addressed several aspects of contemporary grain production.
Ticket: EKKM has always provided free entrance to its visitors as a principle. Through this decision, EKKM maintains itself as a social non-commercial public space and avoids entering the customer and service provider relationship with its audiences and taking on consequent expectations.
Season: EKKM is not open all year round but operates as a public exhibition space seasonally, from early spring to early winter – from the end of March or the beginning of April until mid-December. This rhythm was initially set due to the poor condition of the building and the lack of heating and thermal insulation, however, it has now become one of the more notable characteristics of EKKM. Even though the indoor climate has considerably improved over the years, the conditions are still not good enough to provide a year-round exhibition programme. The seasonal public exhibition programme allows EKKM to realistically maximise its exhibition space, as well as its surroundings, and enables the modest team of a big institution to work behind the scenes throughout the year.