Renovation of the Palace

In 1991, the completely run-down building was closed for thorough renovation and restoration. The restoration took nine years and was based on studies by art historians and conservators, who made attempts to restore the palace to a condition as close to its original appearance as possible. Testing of plaster and paint surfaces revealed the original or 19th-century colour schemes of several halls; the characteristic Martian red of the façade, with golden ochre and white, was restored on the basis of construction reports found in the archives (in the 20th century, the palace had been either yellow or pink). Where possible, more recent layers were removed, revealing all the original details and solutions that had been preserved or were known on the basis of documentation. Among other things, the elegant balustrade that lined the roof of the palace in the 18th century was restored; the 19th-century cast iron borders of the balcony were replaced with the original wooden balusters, and so on. Despite the resulting authentic and stylish general appearance, the palace still bears traces of many past eras, reflecting changes in ways of life and ideals.

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Besides the palace, outbuildings belonging to the complex – the guard’s house, guesthouse, kitchen house and entertainment house – were restored or even built anew, as these were most severely damaged due to being neglected in the Soviet period. Here again, archival materials, old construction drawings and engravings were used to guide the work. One of the more important tasks in restoring the Kadriorg complex was the re-establishment of the regular park surrounding the palace. On 22 July, 2000, the festive opening ceremony of the palace took place. From then on the palace operated as the Kadriorg Art Museum, which displays the foreign art collection of the Art Museum of Estonia. In the same year, the Flower Garden was opened; it had been replanted on the basis of drawings by old palace architects.