The 150th anniversary of the birth of Wivi Lönn makes room for the history of women in architecture

Starting from April 2022, the Museum of Finnish Architecture will offer visitors the opportunity to learn about the notable life’s work of architect Wivi Lönn as well as the history of the Finnish Association of Women Architects, Architecta, which will be celebrating its 80th anniversary. The exhibition, exhibition book and multidisciplinary festival will look at a women’s history of architecture and gender equality issues in the architectural profession. The multifaceted museum activities during the anniversary will complement and amend the generally male-focused history of architecture.

Wivi Lönn (1872–1966) was the first woman architect in Finland to have her own architectural firm. She was among the vanguard of talented young architects who, from the turn of the last century onwards, created a whole new conception of architecture. Lönn’s architectural career, which spanned from the end of the 19th century to the 1940s, is also unparalleled internationally. Her life’s work involved a large number of different types of buildings, ranging from factories to cultural buildings and summer villas, both in Finland and abroad. The Museum of Finnish Architecture has the duty to at last raise Wivi Lönn’s standing as one of the most important figures in the history of Finnish architecture. It is equally important to look at why so few women architects have been included among that esteemed group.  

The exhibition will be on display at the Museum of Finnish Architecture’s small and large exhibition halls, 28.4.2022–25.9.2022

Long live Wivi Lönn! invites you to join the 70th birthday celebrations of Wivi Lönn held in 1942. 46 architects attended the party to celebrate their role model, and where also the proclamation was made of the birth of the Finnish Association of Women Architects, Architecta.

“The women arrived for the occasion dressed in formal wear. ‘It was a pleasure to dress up for the party and forget about war and everyday life, even if only for a moment’, they noted. A horseshoe-shaped table was festively laid for the occasion. Former fellow students and colleagues, already well-known female architects and newly graduated architects were gathered all together. […] Wivi Lönn’s happiness showed in her smile and she was clearly moved by the occasion; after all, she was surrounded by a group of colleagues who could best appreciate her work and success as an independent architect in a man’s world. All those present offered their congratulations to the Great Wivi on her special day.” (Ilmi Haapio: Architecta 1942–1952)  

The exhibition presents Wivi Lönn’s exemplary life’s work and her key architectural projects. In addition to the design work, the analysis focuses on the strategies and networks that were required for a woman architect to operate in the world of men in the early 20th century. Another theme of the celebration is the 80-year-old Association of Women Architects, Architecta, which has provided an important network in the professional development of its members. The exhibition presents the history of Architecta, including its well-known and lesser-known members. Its history tells about the status and work of women architects in 20th century Finland. In addition, the exhibition complements the timeline of the other gender in architecture, the early women architects and women’s organizations to the situation today, as gender equality has not yet been achieved in architecture.

Exhibition book

The exhibition book being published in honour of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Wivi Lönn will be the first collection of articles focusing on her diverse work as an architect. The book consists of five expert articles that look at different aspects her production and career. Among other things, the book examines Lönn as a designer of housing and schools, discusses her travels, and analyses her production in relation to the prevailing society and networks that proved important to her. The book’s contributing authors are Finland’s leading experts on Wivi Lönn’s architecture: Renja Suominen-Kokkonen, Susanna Aaltonen, Hanna Tyvelä and Anna-Leena Lehto.

Festival

In honour of Wivi Lönn’s birthday, the Museum of Finnish Architecture is organizing a weekend-long festival on May 20-22, 2022, where participants will gather around the work of Wivi Lönn and her followers to reflect on the relationship between architecture and gender in a variety of artistic and scientific ways. The festival programme will be announced in February 2022.

For more information, please contact

Ilona Hildén, Communications Planner
ilona.hilden@mfa.fi
+358 45 7731 0468  

Exhibition
Marja Rautaharju, Head of Exhibitions, Services and Concepts
marja.rautaharju@mfa.fi
+358 46 9200 175 

Festival:
Jemina Lindholm, Manager of Learning and Public Programmes
jemina.lindholm@mfa.fi
+358 45 7731 0476

Book:
Petteri Kummala, Head of Information Services and Research
petteri.kummala@mfa.fi
+358 45 7731 0477

Published 17.1.2021