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.

Line, space and color
Constructions by Sakari Laitinen
Small exhibition hall 1.3.–28.5.2017

The Museum of Architecture will also mark the centennial with a parallel exhibition featuring art by the Finnish architect Sakari Laitinen (1937–2015) in the small exhibition hall. Laitinen represents the generation of Finnish architects who began their studies in the late 1950s. Gifted at drawing, Laitinen practiced art in parallel with architecture from his student days onwards. After retiring from architecture in 1997, he devoted himself entirely to art, creating a diverse oeuvre of drawings, collages and three-dimensional cardboard constructions.
Laitinen’s material and technique – cut cardboard – endowed his art with the geometrical, constructivistic quality of an architectural scale model. Whereas architectural scale models are usually white, Laitinen gives a prominent role to colour. His art nevertheless has a distinctively architectural identity: it is easy to picture his cutouts blown up to the scale of buildings.
The exhibition is curated by Mikael Merenmies, Sara Nuortie and Juhani Pallasmaa.
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 collaborative project, unique in scale, draws material from the 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. All of the contributing museums will additionally host their own exhibitions taking an in-depth look at the modernist theme.

Heikkinen–Komonen Architects
Small exhibition hall 7.6.–27.8.2017

“Views, perspectives and balanced proportions.”
The MFA’s Architect’s Voice series continues in 2017 with a show highlighting Heikkinen-Komonen Architects in the small exhibition hall. The Architect’s Voice series features the work of contemporary architects, assigning the role of the curator to the architects themselves, who are given a free hand to decide how they wish to present their work to the public.
Heikkinen-Komonen Architects have chosen to present their work in the form of an installation offering kaleidoscopic visions of their essentially simple architectural designs. The result is a Palladioesque labyrinthine scenography and a cinematic reinterpretation of the original architecture.
The previous architects featured in this series last year were Lahdelma & Mahlamäki, who chose to present their work through a selection of original competition drawings.