The main building of the Art Museum of Estonia

Kadriorg Palace served as the main building of the Art Museum of Estonia again in the years 1946–1991. During the Soviet period, most of the Estonian art life centered on the museum; it housed exhibitions by contemporary artists, displays of Estonian classical art, and exhibitions from abroad – beginning with the works of the artists from “friendly” socialist republics, but including the masterpieces of world-famous artists (e.g., A. Dürer in 1971, Rembrandt’s etchings in 1978, F. Leger in 1974). In the 1950s, the activities in the museum were ideological and “politically correct”; during the thaw of the 1960s, the life of the museum became more active and busier. In the following decades, the old walls of the palace witnessed numerous displays of Estonian avant-garde and heard heated debates about the issues of contemporary art. Because of all this, Kadriorg Palace was a beloved, but still only temporary home for Estonian art, the magnificent Baroque architecture of the building being more of a hindrance than an asset to its owner.

In 1991, the completely run-down building was closed for thorough renovation and restoration.