Estonian national museum review – touching and revealing The Guardian
It is unusual to put a museum at the end of a runway, still more if it also straddles a chain of ornamental lakes, but then the Estonian National Museum is not a usual sort of institution. Its past is wrapped up with that of the country itself. Now it somehow has to represent the complex and precarious history of Estonia, in a fraught present, with a combination of pride and sensitivity.
For a European country to build a national museum at this moment, when nationalism is taking new and unpredictable forms, is perilous. If Russia were to invent such a thing now, it would look like another form of aggressive aggrandisement; if Britain, an episode of querulous post-Brexit blue-passport patriotism; if Germany, it would raise issues too agonising for a single museum to handle. Estonia, a country of 1.3 million, whose two periods of independence – between the wars and since 1991 – add up to less than 50 years, and which still has grounds to be nervous of its neighbour Russia, has reason to define and assert itself with a museum, but it also has to tread cautiously.