Skip to main content


This year’s summer exhibition at the Alvar Aalto Museum is entitled Schildt and Aalto. Modern humanists. It tells of the friendship and collaboration which existed between Göran Schildt, the writer, and Alvar Aalto, the architect. These two very different personalities shared a similar set of values, were extensively cultivated and had considerable interest in Mediterranean culture. The exhibition is a mark of respect towards the life’s work of Göran Schildt and pays homage to the friendship between two modern humanists.

The writer and art historian Doctor Göran Schildt (1917-2009) is perhaps best known for his travel writing about the voyages in the Mediterranean of his sailing yacht the Daphne.  Also present on one of these voyages, a trip up the Nile in the winter of 1954-55, were newly-weds Elissa and Alvar Aalto (1898-1976). Although the Aaltos were only on board for a couple of days, the voyage increased the interaction between the two gentlemen, who had met some years earlier.

As a mark of the long-lasting friendship between the two, Alvar Aalto offered to design a home for Göran and Christine Schildt in Tammisaari. The peculiarities of the house, the Villa Skeppet, completed in 1970, include its external form which resembles the prow of a boat, and the sculptural open hearth in the living room. A film has been produced for the exhibition, in which Tore Tallqvist and Erik Adlercreutz, the architects in charge of the construction project, give an account of the interesting history of the house from inception to commission and onwards to implementation.

Also on display are sketches of the building, working drawing and photographs. An oil painting by the Italian artist Roberto Sambonet has been loaned for the exhibition from its place on one of the living room walls at the Villa Skeppet. The painting has particular significance, because Sambonet was the unifying factor between Schildt and Aalto, and it is thanks to him that the friendship between these two modern humanists began.

The heritage of the Odysseus of Tammisaari and the Maestro of Munkkiniemi

Göran Schildt’s role as protector of the lifetime’s work and intellectual heritage of Alvar Aalto, has been especially significant. Schildt began working on a biography of the architect in the late 1970s, which was published in three separate volumes, The Early Years, The Decisive Years and The Mature Years. The fourth volume of the biography, Alvar Aalto – A Life’s Work, which took the form of a cumulative catalogue of Aalto’s work, was published in the 1990s. “With the curation of the exhibition, ideas about the long-lasting collaboration between Schildt and Aalto have expanded considerably. One important source in this respect has been the correspondence between writer and architect,” says Tommi Lindh, director of both the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Foundation.

Schildt’s work was also intertwined with the setting up of the Alvar Aalto Foundation, up to and including 1968. Schildt, who was one of the founder members, was instrumental in ensuring that the drawings belonging to Aalto’s office were preserved as a complete entity after the architect’s death and that work started on putting them into some sort of order. Today, the drawings collection is archived at the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä and is a key resource for both Finnish and foreign research on Aalto’s architecture. Gems from the drawings collection are presented in the exhibition for the public to see, both in Finland and abroad.

The Göran Schildt heritage is protected by the Christine and Göran Schildt Foundation. “The work of continuing in the footsteps of architect and writer, and the foundations which bear their names is a shared responsibility. It is a question of looking after the material that Schildt collected on the Aalto theme and publishing relevant books – in other words making the lifetime’s work of Alvar Aalto better known,” explains Tommi Lindh.

The exhibition has been produced in collaboration between the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Christine and Göran Schildt Foundation to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Göran Schildt and the centenary of Finland’s independence. The exhibition will be on show in the Gallery at the Alvar Aalto Museum, Jyväskylä, and subsequently at the Villa Schildt in Tammisaari. The exhibition will be accompanied by a generous repertoire of spin-off events (download event program PDF: Schildt_Aalto_Additional_events_A5).

The opening of the exhibition will be held on Thursday 8.6.2017 from 18.00 onwards. The exhibition will be opened by Christine Schildt. Welcome!

Schildt & Aalto. Modern humanists 2.6.–17.9.2017
Alvar Aalto Museum Gallery
Alvar Aallon katu 7, Jyväskylä, Finland
open Tues–Sun at 11–18, July–August Tues–Fri 10–18, Sat-Sun 11–18

For press photographs please contact: 

For further information and interviews, please contact:
Mirkka Vidgrén, Communications
Tel. +358 (0)40 168 5142

Alvar Aalto peering through a window aboard the sailing yacht Daphne in early January 1955. Photo Göran Schildt, Christine and Göran Schildt Foundation.