A contemporary art centre is to launch at a former submarine plant at Port Noblessner in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, on 20 September.

Called the Kai Art Centre, the new art space will be based in the 100-year-old heritage-protected former submarine production plant in Tallinn’s Noblessner area. The former shipyard, a short walk away from the capital’s popular Kalamaja district, has, in recent years, seen massive redevelopment and is fast becoming one of the trendiest places on its own right. A mix of restored late 19th and early 20th century factories – now housing offices, shops and restaurants – and newly built colourful residential buildings line up the harbour, offering views over the Tallinn Bay.

Noblessner area in July 2019.

The Kai Art Centre, initiated by the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Centre, will provide a 450-square metre (4,844-square foot) top-floor exhibition space, an auditorium and an education centre. It will also offer working space for local art organisations. The first floor will include a contemporary restaurant and several food studios hosting classes and workshops for the visiting public.

Local synergies and international collaboration

Functioning as a cultural hub for local and international art, the centre will present four main exhibitions a year, in collaboration with both Estonian and international curators, and its 100-seat auditorium will host diverse cultural events. The centre’s inaugural exhibition will be an international group show, part of the city’s contemporary art biennial, the Tallinn Photomonth.

Kai Art Centre before the renovation work began. Photo by Tõnu Tunnel.

“Kai is a new type of contemporary art
centre in Tallinn. In an increasingly active art scene, the centre’s support
for grass-roots organisations and purpose-built exhibition space for
contemporary art is in demand,” Karin Laansoo, the director of the Estonian
Contemporary Art Development Centre, said in a statement. “The centre is driven
by the vision of bringing together local synergies and international

The Kai Art Centre launches on 20 September with “Let the field of your attention…. soften and spread out,” – an international group show curated by Hanna-Laura Kaljo.

Cover: A rendering of the Kai Art Centre, once it’s renovated. Courtesy of KAOS Architects.

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