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The first museum of contemporary art in Estonia was established in 1992 in Pärnu. From the early days to the present, we have held exhibitions all year round. Artists and film makers from all over the world are welcome to show their masterpieces here.

Museum has a collection of over 600 works of fine art, and there are more than 2 000 documentary films in our video library. The museum is famous for its annual international exhibition of nudes Man and Woman. What's more, in close cooperation with the museum, an international documentary film festival takes place in MoNA every summer.

We started our museum project in 1992 with Chaplin Art Center. The name of Charlie Chaplin was adopted because of our aim to be the same active and energetic in many fields as beloved actor, director and composer did. And one more reason to let his name last - we would like also to support those who are unhappy and sad...

We rented the former CPSU district headquarters building for upgrading cultural life in Pärnu, a town of 45 000 inhabitants. In this ugly office building we started to run art shows, film festivals, concerts, conferences etc.
The art center was ruled by a board with members from Pärnu, Viljandi, Tallinn, Helsinki, New York. The head of the board was Mark Soosaar, a free lance documentary film maker. Most of financial support came from rental fees paid by companies working in the building. Important part of support came from the town budget and the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.

In 1998 we started to build up the MoNA - the Museum of New Art based on art collection donated by artists around the world. Today we have in our collection masterpieces by P.Picasso, J.Rustin, Corneille, Y.Ono, J.P.Witkin, E.Lucie-Smith, M.G.Rivera, E.Ohlson, J.Saudek, L.Lapin, P.Mudist, L.Lestberg etc. The main expert for our collection is London based art historian Edward Lucie-Smith. The main curator and artistic director of the museum is Mark Soosaar.

The largest hall of 250 square meters is 5,5 m high. The central hall of 200 square meters is 7 meters high. Two smaller halls by 70 square meters are 2,5 m high. The lobby (150 sq.m) which can also to be used for exhibitions is 2,3 m high.

The main function of the MONA is to organise international art exhibitions. The Museum has introduced artists from such countries as Chile, Iran, Peru, China, Mexico, Jamaica, Guatemala etc. Nor is Estonian folk art neglected: for example, handicrafts and naivist paintings from the Estonian islands are often on display.

International exhibition of nudes Man and Woman, as well as the an exhibition of self-portraits, I Know Myself Best, are long-standing traditions at the Museum. Man and Woman is exhibiting beauty of human body in a form of classical and contemporary nude art. I Know Myself Best is the show where the artists are free to display everything connected with their unique person. Since 1997, the Museum has organised an international symposium The Art of the Blessed which tries to help mentally retarded people to express themselves and communicate with the rest of the world through their art, since communication with words is difficult for them.

Annually, every July, there will take place international festival of documentary and anthropological films. The Annual Pärnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival is an artistic and scientific event, an important link between documentary film makers and anthropologists of the East and West. The aim of the festival in general is to support cultural survival of peoples. Only documentary films and videos of high value and quality, recording human activities in social, historical or ecological context are accepted for competition screenings. During the festival a selected program of outstanding documentaries will be broadcast on Estonian TV and during the last night the TV-audience will be voting for the best film to be awarded with the ESTONIAN PEOPLE'S AWARD.

The Museum collection contains near one thousand items. There are items of fine art, photographs and installations, sculptures etc. The most significant aspect of the collection is originality. Rather than attempting to rival world-famous art museums like the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Louisiana in Denmark or the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the collection will concentrate on the art of the Baltic Sea countries. In Soosaar's words, this condition is by no means a rule: if a person or an institution donates a work by a contemporary Chinese or Japanese artist, the Museum will be only too happy to accept it. The collection already contains a few objects from Latin America. The Pärnu Museum is not going to focus on the works of famous artists of the 20th century, because in two years time they will all be in the past, art of the previous millennium. Instead, more attention will be paid to young artists, who may make a name for themselves in the future. This does not naturally exclude works by well-known masters.

The Museum with its cozy café, is open 7 days a week through year.

Welcome to our museum!

Vaiko Edur, programmer for the Museum of New Art

© SA Uue Kunsti Muuseum