Five Finnish museums join forces to celebrate Finland’s centennial year 2017 with a major joint exhibition. Modern Life! – Finnish Modernism and the International Dimension showcases highlights of architecture, design, visual art and photography that contributed to the construction of a modern and international Finland between 1917 and 1968. It also shows how everyday life in the modern country was gradually shaped by visual art.

Visions of a Creative, Bold and International Finland.

In the first five decades of its independence, Finland was transformed from a politically divided, rural and poor country into a modern, urbanising and international welfare state. In parallel with the transformation, art, photography, design and architecture all sought new paths. The young nation seized opportunities at world exhibitions and international competitions to raise its reputation and self-esteem. The Finnish success story has thus relied largely on immaterial assets, nature and creative individuals.

Modern architects designed urban centres and dwellings with the aims of improving quality of life, efficiency and practicality. Designers created beautiful products for everyday life, as well as unique objects of art. Artists explored increasingly abstract forms of expression while photographers turned their lenses on modern people and the changing cityscape. The new style was not always welcomed by the public, and modernism was even jeered at, especially in popular culture.

Modern Life! showcases the success story of Finnish architecture, from Eliel Saarinen’s skyscraper that was never built to Toronto City Hall designed by Viljo Revell. It also explores Alvar Aalto’s roles as architect, designer and urban planner. It sheds light on the moment when Finnish Design became a household name and examines the ways in which art and urban planning have transformed the capital. Other highlights include works by the pioneers of Finnish photography and fine art, and the success of Finland at the New York and Montreal world fairs.

The exhibition is a tribute to the internationality, fearlessness and curiosity of Finnish modernists.

Modern Life! is curated from the treasures of the participating museums: over 300 works or installations by 50 great names. The featured Finnish talents include Alvar and Aino Aalto, Wäinö Aaltonen, Emmi Fock, Kaj Franck, Eila Hiltunen, Anitra Lucander, Toini Muona, Vuokko Nurmesniemi, Matti Pietinen, Otso Pietinen, Laila Pullinen, Unto Pusa, Viljo Revell, Aarno Ruusuvuori, Eliel Saarinen, Kyllikki Salmenhaara, Timo Sarpaneva, Vilho Setälä, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Sam Vanni and Tapio Wirkkala.

Tennis Palace is a matchless venue for the show, an eminently modernist building celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2017.

A unique collaboration

The exhibition is produced by HAM in collaboration with the Alvar Aalto Museum, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Design Museum and the Finnish Museum of Photography.
The exhibition architecture is by Marcel Schmalgemeijer.
The visual identity of marketing communications by Craig & Karl.
The exhibition is graciously supported by the Centenary Foundation of the Finnish Society of Crafts and Design.