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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.

The boat has been in a shelter in the grounds of the Experimental House since 1999, and is being moved to a temporary storage space for renovation in 2021. From Autumn 2022, it will occupy a shelter especially designed for it in Jyväskylä Harbour so the public can admire it.


Alvar Aalto 1952-55

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

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Sketch of the boat. Drawing © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

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Photo © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

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

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

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

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Sketch of the boat. Drawing © Alvar Aalto Foundation.

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