On 25 April 2003,
the Kondas Centre was opened in Viljandi at Pikk 8. The idea of
opening the Paul Kondas museum, or at least a memorial room, dates
back to late 1980s. In 1986, Viljandi Museum acquired 36 oil
paintings by Paul Kondas in their collection.
started in front of the wooden house with columns in Tartu street,
where the artist and schoolteacher Paul Kondas had lived in a
one-room flat. Tormi Kevvai sat on the stairs, wearing a Santa Claus
costume, like in the painting “Santa Claus Fishing”, with fishing
rods in his hands and a Christmas tree beside him, next to the
musician Margus Põldsepp. Mark Soosaar, Aate-Heli Õun, Ülo-Alo
Võsar, Ants Juske and Taave Tuutma spoke to the audience gathered
Then Santa Claus delivered his greetings, and headed down
the hill towards the lake, saying he would go angling. Next, the
procession with Culture College students dressed as characters from
Kondas’ paintings, and other participants went to Tallinn street,
where they stopped at the building which housed the Kilpkonna Gallery
for 10 years. Tiiu Männiste held a speech there. Then they went
along Pikk street to the former pastor’s house, where an excited
crowd had gathered. The clouds had cleared and the sun was shining.
Peep Aru and Signe Kivi, who were involved in the process of opening
the centre, gave a speech. The Mayor of Viljandi, Malle Vahtra,
unveiled a figure, which turned out to depict the wife carrier from
the painting “Baptism
the doors were opened and visitors entered the permanent exhibition
hall. At first the room was dark and from a screen higher up in the
air, Paul Kondas himself greeted those present. It was an extract
from the documentary “Sunday Painters”, made by Mark Soosaar in
1979. On the screen, Paul Kondas said, smiling, “Hello,
darlings, so nice you could come here!”
Then lights were
turned on and the numerous visitors in the room could see Paul
Kondas’ paintings around them.
In the adjacent rooms there was
a dinner table, and the works of naive artists of the island of Kihnu
and of Viljandi county were exhibited on the walls.
musician played, and the happy visitors mingled with the characters
from the paintings on the walls: the king of the forest, the hunter,
a girl in national costume, a boatman, the Yule goat, devils,
This was the beginning and everything that
followed was yet ahead.
In 2003, the Kondas Centre started at a
low key – with the permanent exhibition and two small gallery
rooms. The upstairs exhibition hall was added the next year, and two
more galleries and a room for workshops in 2011.