Kadriorg has been the venue for important political events, has shaped the aesthetic beliefs of several generations, and has played a noteworthy role in art and literature. The Kadriorg Palace is well-preserved. However, we have to recognise that it has been redesigned by every historical period. The exhibition reflects this history of the palace and park and creates an atmosphere that helps us perceive the nature of Kadriorg.
All of the layers of Kadriorg’s history are interesting and valuable. Initially built as a ceremonial palace for the tsars, it became the summer home for the ruler’s family and entourage, and also stimulated life in the local resort. For Kadriorg, the political upheavals of the 20th century meant a transformation from a symbol of Russian imperial power to one of the most valued cultural heritage monuments of the Republic of Estonia. As Juhan Viiding wrote, “We have embraced this foreignly beautiful palace of a foreign country’s rulers in our ‘land comprised merely of houses’.”
The processes related to politics, economics and world-views are represented in the exhibition by indirect witnesses. Maps, construction plans, engravings, photos, sound and video recordings help to document their eras. The emotions and persuasiveness of real-life events are added by objects that are not directed related to Kadriorg, but which represent their times and communicate Kadriorg’ aura and tastes: historical costumes from Alexandre Vassiliev’s collection, accessories, toys, portraits, etc. That which is invisible is presented in words: an audio guide produced by the curators highlights many colourful chapters in the 300-year history of Kadriorg and the people associated with it. The production of the audio guide was supported by the Ministry of Culture.
The exhibition includes works of art and objects from the following collections: the Alexandre Vassiliev Foundation, Estonian History Museum, Tallinn City Museum, Tallinn Literary Centre, Museums of Virumaa Foundation, Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, University of Tartu Museum, Narva Museum, Enn Kunila Collection, Jaanus Idla Collection and the Art Museum of Estonia.