A Night at KUMU 0

Anna Iltnere

Museum Night just passed, but on May 20, Tallinn’s Kumu Contemporary Art Museum will offer its own unique event, Kumu Night. How does this differ from Museum Night, and what are the challenges that museums face today? Arterritory spoke with Kumu director Anu Liivak and curator Maria-Kristiina Somre. 

Read more about the programme of Kumu Night here.

KUMU Night has been an annual tradition since 2006, when Kumu Museum first opened. The event is an international one-night festival with concerts, dance, cinema, and art. I went to Tallinn to find out more about the events of May 20, which will take place barely a week after the International Museum Night. The Kumu café is also open on those days when the museum’s expositions are closed to visitors. While the exhibit halls are enshrouded in half darkness and not a sound is heard, the café is filled with a lively bustle. This is where I met the director of the museum, Anu Liivak, and curator Maria-Kristiina Somre.

How did Kumu Night come about, and what happens during this event?

Maria-Kristiina Somre: Kumu Night is organized in collaboration with the organizer of the Tallinn Music Week, Helen Sildna. She was the one who, five years ago, came to us with the idea to organize an experimental music festival in the museum. Back then, when we first began the new museum’s operations, we tried to emphasize the contemporary, and it seemed that this offer was closely related. Kumu Night doesn’t have one specific date when the event is organized; each time the date shifts, yet it always happens in late May or early June. The reasons for this are practical: in order to have a space for the main stage, this one-night festival is organized when the large exhibition hall is empty, when the exposition is being changed. Kumu Night is basically a music festival, yet we always try to include some visual art projects, too.

The main audience consists of those who don’t visit the museum on a regular basis. Or perhaps don’t even know about Kumu. We don’t compile statistics, because there aren’t any resources to monitor the figures; yet it’s clear that the event successfully promotes the museum’s contemporary image. And, speaking of figures, these can be approximately deduced. A limited number of people can attend Kumu Night, due to the size of the space and safety restrictions. And this number is 2,000 people. For a few years, the limit was reached and a crowd of people remained outside the door. You can also purchase tickets beforehand, which guarantees entry, but the majority still buy tickets at the entrance.