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In 1952-54, Alvar and Elissa Aalto designed their summer residence known as the Experimental House on Muuratsalo Island in the island municipality of Säynätsalo at the Northern end of Lake Päijänne. At that time, there was still no road connection to the island, so having their own boat was a necessity. Aalto wanted to design the boat himself and threw himself into the task with a passion. After multiple design and construction stages, a sizeable, wooden motor boat, Nemo propheta in patria, was born.

There were skilled boat carpenters in Säynätsalo and the boat was launched in spring 1955. With its black-painted hull, mahogany deck and brass fittings it was a really stylish sight. Elissa Aalto was generally at the helm, and the boat was used for shopping trips, transporting guests, and pleasure jaunts to the nearby islands. The boat’s 96hp American motor provided the power for high speeds, but the way it moved through the water was not a complete success – it has been described as tilling the surface of the lake like a plough.

From Spring 2023, the boat has occupied a shelter especially designed for it in Jyväskylä Harbour so the public can admire it.


Alvar Aalto 1952-55

— 1

Nemo propheta in patria at the shore of the Lake Päijänne. Photo © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 2

Mahogany cabin with the nameplate. Photo Maija Holma @ Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 3

Sketch of the boat. Drawing © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 4

Photo © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 5

Alvar Aalto in his boat. Photo © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 6

View towards the bow of the boat. Photo Maija Holma @ Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 7

Alvar and Elissa Aalto in Lake Päijänne. Photo © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 8

The boat shelter for the Nemo propoheta in patria was completed in 1999 near the Muuratsalo Experimental House. Photo © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 9

Cabin hatch. Photo Maija Holma @ Alvar Aalto Foundation.

— 10

Sketch of the boat. Drawing © Alvar Aalto Foundation.


Cabined motorboat

  • name: Nemo propheta in patria (No one is a prophet in his own land)
  • designer: architect Alvar Aalto
  • design and construction: 1954-55
  • boat register number: X-470
  • built at: Kosola boatyard, Säynätsalo
  • builders: boatwright Lauri Kosola and carpenter Väinö Jokinen
  • interior: cabinetmakers Adolf and Risto Marttila
  • dimensions: maximum length 10.2 m, maximum width 2.5 m, height 2.8 m, weight approx. 2000 kg
  • materials: frame – pine planking; deck gratings – oak; cabin + instrument panel – mahogany. There is also a redwood mast, mostly for flag days
  • engine type: inboard engine (96 hp, 6 cylinders)
  • engine make and number: Scripps Marin 53145
  • fuel: petrol

The boat was renovated in 1983 as a museum object (Mallituote Lasse Andersson). Restorative renovation of the exterior surfaces in 2014 and renovation of the interior surfaces and the fixtures and fittings in 2021 (boat carpenter Jarmo Heikkilä). The renovations were done to conserve the boat as an exhibition object. The original boat accessories and textiles were conserved in 2022 (Museum of Central Finland/Conservator Esko Ahola and Craft Museum of Finland/ Conservation Center).

Nemo is in the Alvar Aalto Museum’s collection and is owned by the City of Jyväskylä.