At the recommendation of Minister of Culture Indrek Saar, the selection committee made a proposal to Alar Karis to conclude a five-year employment contract. The future director considers the improvement of research work and establishment of new collaborative relationships to be his first assignments.
The exact date of Alar Karis assuming his new position as the director of the Estonian National Museum (ENM) will be determined in the course of the employment contract negotiations. His term as Auditor General will end in the spring of next year.
Paavo Nõgene, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Culture, who chaired the selection committee, said that the decision was consensual among the committee members who were present. First of all, Nõgene recognised Tõnis Lukas, the current head of the museum, under whose leadership the new ENM building, one of the most modern museums in Europe, was opened last fall. “The ENM has made a great developmental leap. The sectoral and socioeconomic impact that has been achieved under the direction of Tõnis Lukas and in cooperation with a professional team has been noticed and recognised. As an example, let’s recall the significant awards that were received for the promotion of the tourism sector. At the same time, we cannot ignore the experiences of the visitors; and the permanent exhibition, Echo of the Urals was named the best exhibition in Estonia for 2016,” Nõgene enumerated. He added that Alar Karis’s vision for the future development of the museum is clear and focused, and based on the objectives of the museum’s development plan.
Alar Karis said that he will assume the position with a wish to maintain the ENM’s professional team and provide new possibilities for development for the institution as a whole. “I have already spoken repeatedly about research activity, which I believe has room for development. The implementation of all this requires a critical review of the workflows,” Karis said. He emphasised that, in addition to exhibitions that speak to people, the key to the success of a modern-day museum is also openness in the broader sense. “Tartu as one of Estonia’s innovation centres is a wonderful location for a museum with ambitions, such as those of the ENM. Here there is a university, a large number of research institutions and several smaller museums, with which there can never be too much cooperation. I will soon start seeking all of this,” said Karis.
Alar Karis was born on 26 March 1958. He is a molecular geneticist and developmental biologist, the former rector of the Estonian University of Life Sciences (2003-2007) and University of Tartu (2007-2012). Since 2013, he has served as Auditor General.
Karis graduated from the Estonian Agricultural Academy in 1981. He has furthered his education in universities in Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands. Since 1999, Alar Karis has been a professor at the University of Tartu. His research papers are among the most cited among Estonian scientists.
Alar Karis has been awarded the Order of the White Star, IV class.
The selection committee included the following members from the Ministry of Culture: Paavo Nõgene, Secretary-General and chairman of the committee, Under-Secretary Tarvi Sits, Adviser for Museums Mirjam Rääbis, and Head of the Financial Department Merju Künnapuu; as well as Sirje Helme, Member of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Art Museum of Estonia Foundation, Anton Pärn, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation of Haapsalu and Läänemaa Museums and Aadu Must, Chairman of the Riigikogu Cultural Affairs Committee.