How Finland was modernized – A story told in 200 drawings
Museum of Finnish Architecture, main exhibition hall, 1.3.–27.8.2017
To mark the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence in 2017, the Museum of Finnish Architecture will host a special exhibition tracing the birth of modern Finland through an extensive selection of 200 architectural drawings. The exhibition is part of a major centennial initiative between five Finnish museums. It is thematically linked to Modern life!, a joint jubilee exhibition to be hosted at the HAM Helsinki Art Museum.
Modern life began with the rapid spread of the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century, sweeping Finland along in its momentum. The exhibition will look at how this major social, economic and technological upheaval has changed Finnish architecture from the late 19th century to the present day.
After gaining independence, Finland consciously sought to project an image of itself as a thriving modern nation. Finnish architects stood among the avant-garde of reform, rapidly espousing the ideology of functionalism and taking an open-minded approach to the creative use of concrete – as soon became visible in the architecture of everything from grocery outlets and service stations to cinemas and hotels.
Despite the pressure of heavy war reparations, Finland rapidly modernized its commercial and industrial architecture in the postwar period. Elegant new shopping centres sprang up around the country, and new factories and power plants were built to replace industrial sites that were lost to the Soviet Union after the war. Indoor and outdoor swimming centres were among the recreational buildings constructed to promote the health and wellbeing of the young, modern nation.
Modern life!
HAM Helsinki Art Museum 3.3.2017–30.7.2017
Five Finnish museums are joining forces to celebrate Finland’s centennial year with a major shared exhibition project. Modern life! presents highlights of Finnish modernism and its key national and international achievements from 1917 to 1968.
The exhibition paints a portrait of the modernist movement’s faith in the future and the optimism spurred by advances in science and technology. Modernism coincided with a period of social upheaval in Finland, marked by rapid urbanization, industrialization, the founding of the welfare state and internationalization. Modernism became a touchstone consolidating the Finnish identity. ‘Out with the old, in with the new’ was the universal mantra in art, design and architecture.
Modern life! brings together architecture, design, photography and visual arts in new and surprising ways. The exhibition also spotlights the many avenues through which modernism has contributed to shaping Finnish art and society. This unique collaborative project draws material from the pooled research and collections of five Finnish museums: HAM Helsinki Art Museum, the Design Museum, the Finnish Museum of Photography, the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Alvar Aalto Museum.
The main exhibition opens in March 2017 under the vaulted arches of Helsinki’s Tennis Palace. The exhibition is co-produced by HAM Helsinki Art Museum, the Alvar Aalto Foundation, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Design Museum and, the Finnish Museum of Photography. All of the contributing museums will additionally host their own exhibitions taking an in-depth look at the modernist theme.