After various delays it was granted building permission in summer 2002.The building was completed in December of 2005, and the museum´s inauguration took place in February this year (2007).
The impressive site with a 20-metre-high lime stone slope is located at the south end of the Kadriorg Park, some 3 km from Tallinn city centre. In order to leave the park as intact as possible and not to threaten the dominant position of the nearby Kadriorg Palace, the large museum building was placed in the slope, partly underground.
The curved wall encloses the courtyard and the outdoor sculpture exhibition. The same wall divides the museum building into two different parts. Outside the curve are, for instance, the administrative personnel's rooms and the conservation facilities, and inside are the lobby and exhibition halls. The design aims at simplicity and clarity. The exhibition halls are simple and unassuming, placing the artwork at centre stage. The ascetism of the interior continues in the exterior, which relies on the power of plain geometric forms.
The main facade materials are limestone, green-patinated copper and glass. Green patinated copper was one of the main facade materials in the competition phase in 1994 when means to achieve such patination did not exist. Nordic Green, which resembles the natural patination of copper in the Scandinavian and Baltic climates, was only being developed at Outokumpu (Luvata) at the time.
The copper panels, which are 625mm high and 2100mm wide, were horizontally seamed with angle seams and vertically with lock joints. The panels were manufactured using Nordic Brown copper and manually finished with a green patination agent to give the natural look of an uneven patination.