Estonian, Finnish leaders to open largest Baltic art center in Tallinn

The Estonian and Finnish presidents were set to inaugurate the biggest art center in the Baltic countries on Friday as the Art Museum of Estonia moves into a new building that took 12 years to complete.

President Arnold Ruutel and his Finnish counterpart Tarja Halonen were scheduled to cut the ribbon on the 700 million kroon ( Ђ 45 million, US$53 million) limestone building, designed by Finnish architect Pekka Vapaavuori.

Known popularly as "Kumu," or art center in Estonian is in a lush park just outside the Tallinn city center.

"We have earned it. But it's been a long process," Marika Valk, director of Art Museum of Estonia, said ahead of the opening.

The classic and contemporary collections of the Art Museum of Estonia, founded in 1919, were previously spread out at three locations in Tallinn. The new art center will finally house them under one roof and divide collections into separate sections, including one for video installations.

The collections include works by classic Estonian painters such as Johann Koler and Kristjan Raud as well as Soviet-era artists like Tonis Vint, reports the AP.

I.L.

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