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To commemorate the centenary of Elissa Aalto (1922−2022), the Alvar Aalto Foundation has produced the Architect Elissa Aalto touring exhibition showcasing the life’s work of this talented, tenacious designer. The exhibition began its tour at Lappia Hall in Rovaniemi in September and will open in October in two Alvar Aalto cities, Alarie and Tammisaari. The exhibition sheds light on Elissa Aalto’s public and private role in the everyday life of Alvar Aalto’s architect’s office and alongside her famous architect husband.

In Alajärvi the exhibition is at Villa Väinölä (1926), which Alvar Aalto designed for his brother. Elissa Aalto played a role in the design of Alajärvi’s cultural and administrative complex, and especially of the library building, which was completed after Alvar Aalto’s death, by what was then called Alvar Aalto & Co, Architects, in 1991. The Mayor of Alajärvi Vesa Koivunen is happy to host the exhibition. “Alajärvi’s Aalto centre is a splendid complex on which Elissa left her mark, too. I believe her role is somewhat less familiar to many of us in Alajärvi. I hope this exhibition will help give people here a better idea of her importance,” Koivunen says. “I also hope that as many people as possible will come to take a look at the exhibition,” he adds.

The exhibition has been augmented with a selection of pictures of Alajärvi’s cultural and administration complex taken by the Foundation’s photographer Maija Holma.

Architect Elissa Aalto exhibition at Villa Väinölä, Alajärvi, Tuesday to Friday, 13:00−17:00, 26.10−23.11.2022. The exhibition opening is at 13:00−15:00 on Saturday 29.10.2022.


Elissa Aalto and Göran Schildt, worked to preserve Aalto’s heritage


Göran Schildt and Elissa Aalto at the Alvar Aalto Symposium in 1980´s. Photo Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Göran Schildt and Elissa Aalto at the Alvar Aalto Symposium in 1980´s. Photo Alvar Aalto Foundation.


A small-scale exhibition Architect Elissa Aalto curated from the larger exhibition is to open in the sauna building at Villa Skeppet in Tammisaari. Villa Skeppet (1969−70), designed for Göran and Christine Schildt, was the last residential building planned by Alvar Aalto. Elissa and Alvar Aalto became family friends of the writer and philosopher Göran Schildt and both of his wives. Göran and Christine Schildt married in 1966, after which the Aaltos and Schildts spent a lot of time together. Christine Schildt remembers her friend Elissa Aalto as an especially jolly, warm-hearted person. “She was easy to be with and she spread joy around here. I have fond memories of Elissa Aalto and I am glad her life’s work is being highlighted during this anniversary year,” Christine Schildt says.

Elissa Aalto’s role as a mainstay of Alvar Aalto architect’s office and the Alvar Aalto Foundation was considerable. Göran Schildt was the primus motor behind the setting up of the Foundation, and, after Aalto’s death, he was for a long time the Foundation’s chairman and actively researched, wrote and lectured about Aalto’s architecture. Backed by Elissa Aalto and Göran Schildt, the architect’s office’s drawings and other archive materials were sold all in one piece to the Foundation, and organizing and cataloguing them began. The numerous completed projects, a number of carefully restored valuable buildings, and one of the world’s rare drawing collections to be preserved intact are left as a permanent record of Elissa Aalto’s life’s work.

The small-scale exhibition Architect Elissa Aalto is in the sauna building at Villa Skeppet, 12:00−16:00, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 29.10−29.11.2022 (closed on All Saints´ Day 5.11). Villa Skeppet is open to the public at 17:00−19:30, Friday, 28.10.2022, when it will also celebrate the opening of the exhibition. You are warmly welcome!

Elissa Aalto 100 centenary has been celebrated at the Alvar Aalto Foundation in various ways over the year. A small-scale Elissa Aalto exhibition is being shown at Studio Aalto and the Foundation was marking the centenary by launching the Elissa Aalto 100 product range in summer 2022. In November the Alvar Aalto Foundation will publish the first book about Elissa Aalto. Elissa Aalto’s birthday is celebrated in November 22, 2022.


Further information:
Exhibition content and media enquiries
Alvar Aalto Foundation
Elissa Aalto 100 centenary year coordinator Mari Forsberg
Tel. +358 50 325 1909

Exhibition enquiries in Alajärvi
City of Alajärvi, Villa Väinölä, Nelimarkka Museum
Museum Secretary Päivi Haapaniemi
Tel. +358 40 7758 077

Exhibition enquiries in Tammisaari
Christine and Göran Schildt Foundation
Head of Organisation, Jennifer Dahlbäck
Tel. +358 400 212 825