Culture and art heritage
In the cultural sector we support holding and introducing culture and art heritage, focusing on nationally attractive objects. We also support the field of architecture as we work closely with architects each and every day toward a common goal – designing and building functional, long-lasting works of architecture.
The cooperation between Merko and Estonian Art Museum started in 2005 when Merko completed the construction of unique museum building.
From 2017 to 2019, we are supporting a project aimed at the development of a new exhibition solution for the Tallinn Danse Macabre, a masterpiece by Bernt Notke. The project revolves around creating a new, contemporary exhibition solution, along with a technical design and engineering project, a multimedia solution that presents the pictorial side and iconography in the work, and a solution meant for visitors with special needs.
Lübeck master painter Bernt Notke’s Danse Macabre, housed in Tallinn’s St. Nicholas’ Church, is one of the best-known and prized late medieval artwork in Estonia. It is extraordinary throughout northern Europe, as it has rare pictorial content, being the only surviving medieval depiction in this genre to be painted on canvas and one of the best known works by Notke. Originally close to 30 metres in width, today only a 7.5-metre initial fragment survives. Thirteen figures are depicted against an autumnal landscape – mortals arrayed according to their station in life, taking turns dancing with a skeletal Death figure. Tallinn’s Danse Macabre was first mentioned in 1603, and it is thought to have been commissioned for St. Matthew’s Chapel in St. Nicholas’ Church (known as St. Anthony’s Chapel starting from the 17th century), where it is still located today.
From 2014-2016, we provided support for the major project at the St. Nicholas Museum, “Rode Altarpiece in Closeup”, focusing on the conservation of the grand late medieval retable of the main altar. This is one of the grandest and best-preserved late medieval northern German panelled altars anywhere in Europe. It came to Tallinn in 1481 and has been in its position for over 500 years. The altarpiece is 6 metres wide and close to 3.5 metres high when fully open. The conservation work could be witnessed on the spot at the museum.
The Rode Altarpiece research and conservation project drew acclaim from several key sources. The project has won Europe’s most prestigious heritage conservation prize in the category of research. As part of the prize, 29 recipients from 18 countries were honoured, who were selected by panels consisting of independent experts from out of 202 competing projects that were nominated by individuals and organizations from 39 European countries. The Museum Council at the Estonian Ministry of Culture named “Rode Altarpiece in Closeup” as the best science-related endeavour of 2016.
In 2010-2013 Merko supported the restoration of the work “Driving the salesmen and money-changers out of the temple” by Hieronymos Boschi (around 1450-1516), belonging among the most intriguing masters of art history will be financed as the first priority. In 2013 Merko supported the exhibition “When the Artist Met Clio. Historical Scenes from the 19th Century”. It is the first art event to bring together the historical illustrations created and collected in Estonia during the 19th century.
Merko supported the St. Nicholas Silver Chamber opened in 2011, displaying the oldest, most valuable part of the Art Museum of Estonia’s silver collection. The exhibition housed in the former sacristy has three parts: the St. Nicholas Church silver, the silver of the Tallinn Brotherhood of the Blackheads and of the full-fledged guilds (St. Canute Guild, Toompea Guild, Great Guild). Few European cities have as much surviving guild silver as does Tallinn.
In 2007 we sponsored the organisation of the exhibition of “Joan Miro landscapes” in KUMU art museum and in 2008 we contributed to the development of Kadriorg Art Museum. In 2009 the support was directed to the organisation of the events related to the 290ieth jubilee of Kadriorg. In autumn 2010 Kadriorg Art Museum celebrated its 10th jubilee, on the occasion of which the book “Kadriorg. Story of the Castle” with new text and abundant photo material was published with the support of Merko.
In 2015 and 2016 we supported the field of architecture in co-operation with the Union of Estonian Architects who organized competition for architect of the year to highlight and recognize one outstanding work of architecture and the architect responsible for it. The prize, supported by Merko, was 5000 euros. With the intention to ensure that the winning work will not just be extraordinary in the Estonian cultural context but would also strike international audiences as distinctive and innovative, the works will be judged by an international jury.
In 2016, the annual award from the Union of Estonian Architects went to Pärnu Beach Stadium. The project was designed by Jan Skolimowski and Peeter Loo (KAMP Arhitektid), with Anton Andres contributing. The decision to award the annual prize was made by the independent acclaimed Spanish architect Fuensanta Nieto. “The strength of the Pärnu Beach Stadium is a clear and powerful form where architecture and the structure make up an integral whole. This is architecture where aesthetic grows directly out of the function,” said Katrin Koov, President of the Union of Estonian Architects.
In 2015, Peeter Pere won the Estonian Union of Architects award for designing a private home and outbuildings in Tartu County. The decision was made by one of Finland’s most acclaimed architects, Rainer Mahlamäki, who is a winner of the Finland Prize and a panellist on the Aivar Aalto architecture competition jury. Mahlamäki said the components of the Peeter Pere design – bold, original and forward-looking architecture, challenging construction technology, a successful end result and many enjoyable details – added up to architectural work that was practically flawless.
2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Estonia’s membership of the European Union and in July, Italy took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Merko supported the gala concert organised by the Embassy of Italy and the publication of a book dedicated to this important event. The opera gala at the Estonia Concert Hall featured soloists from one of the most influential opera houses in Italy, Donizetti Theatre in Bergamo, who were accompanied by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Anu Tali. The concert programme offered world-famous music composed by Donizetti, Puccini and Verdi. The book is rare in the sense that it gives a thorough overview in Estonian of Donizetti’s life and activities and his operas, the history of Italian opera, leading opera houses and opera festivals in Italy.
In 2005-2013 Merko supported the issue of music awards of the Estonian Music Council during 2005-2013, the aim of which is to recognize the musicians or the music institutions, the activities of which have contributed to the development of the Estonian music. Merko was a long-term sponsor of Drama Theatre, by helping the theatre to develop as a national theatre. The cooperation between Drama Theatre and Merko Ehitus continued trough the seasons 2007/2008, 2008/2009, 2009/2010, 2010/2011.
Merko has supported the publication of the DVD retake collection „MAJA: Eesti arhitektuuri paremik 2006 ja 2007″ („HOUSE: the best of the Estonian architecture 2006 and 2007″) by the Union of Estonian Architects. The best Estonian new buildings of 2006 and 2007 are recorded on the film. Among others, Viimsi Secondary School (architects Raul Järg, Priit Pent, Eero Endjärv, Illimar Truverk), the office building located at Jõe str 4A in Tallinn (architect Urmas Lõoke) and Tallink Spa & Conference Hotel (architects Ülar Mark, Indrek Tiigi) built by AS Merko Ehitus have been also chosen to represent the good Estonian architecture.