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The AALTO – Aino, Alvar, Elissa exhibition opens at MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome on December 14, 2023, and tells the story of the design work done by architect Alvar Aalto and his architect wives, Aino and Elissa, which was typified by architecture and design in harmony with people and the surrounding world. The experimental layout and the exhibition’s auxiliary programme give visitors a variety of new ways to explore these world-famous works. The exhibition is curated by the Italian architecture and research studio Space Caviar.

“This is the most important Aalto exhibition in Italy for many decades. It is a splendid culmination of Aalto’s 125th anniversary year,”says Alvar Aalto Foundation CEO Tommi Lindh. The exhibition is part of the Alvar Aalto 125 anniversary programme and is open until 26 May 2024.

Architecture, art and design are all interlinked in the Aaltos’ thinking. The buildings designed by Alvar Aalto’s architect’s office continue to inspire architects around the world. The Aaltos’ design ideas are seen in serially-produced objects in many homes, with several pieces from the 1930s still in production today.

The exhibition showcases 11 building projects completed by Aalto’s office during the three designers´ long careers: Jyväskylä Workers’ Club, Paimio Sanatorium, Sunila Pulp Mill and Residential Area, Villa Mairea, Säynätsalo Town Hall, Muuratsalo Experimental House, and the National Pensions Institute, all in Finland; Vyborg Library in Russia; Baker House Dormitory (MIT) and Mount Angel Abbey Library in the USA; and the Church and Parish Centre in Riola di Vergato, Italy.

“The exhibition is a stylish ensemble dominated by exhibition pedestals built out of various types of brick. The original drawings and objects are beautifully displayed. It also includes new photographs taken this autumn. One special feature of the exhibition is the life-size Villa Mairea swimming pool made out of wooden slats,” Tommi Lindh says.

A considerable number of original drawings from the Alvar Aalto Foundation’s extensive collections are on display. Besides drawings, the exhibition includes documents on loan from the Foundation’s document collection. Glass designs and printed fabrics, as well as furniture and lighting designed for different buildings, each have their own place in the exhibition. The background to the furniture designs is illustrated by the parts of different pieces of furniture in the exhibition, and by the section focussed on Artek. The loan of nearly 250 objects for this exhibition is the biggest made by the Alvar Aalto Foundation in 2023.

The Alvar Aalto Foundation’s drawing and photograph archives are unique both nationally and internationally. They span the extensive, diverse life’s work of Alvar, Aino and Elissa Aalto. The original drawings by Alvar Aalto’s architect’s office, some 90,000 in all, form the nucleus of the Alvar Aalto Foundation’s collections. The Foundation’s photograph collection comprises about 50,000 architecture, design and exhibition photos related to Aalto’s personal history and life’s work, from the 1920s right up to the present day.

AALTO – Aino, Alvar, Elissa
The Human Dimension of Design

MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts
Via Guido Reni, 4A, Rome

Further information:

Communications Manager Mirkka Vidgren
+358 40 168 5142

Chief Curator Timo Riekko
+358 400 354 268


This year marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of Alvar Aalto (1898−1976). The architects and pioneers of modern design Alvar, Aino and Elissa Aalto created exceptionally rich and varied careers for themselves in Finland and abroad. During the year, the Alvar Aalto Foundation – along with its partners in collaboration – will be putting the spotlight on the story of Alvar Aalto’s architect’s office (1923−1994) and on the ideas that influenced its work; ideas that are still relevant today.