Frame and City of Jyväskylä to Guide Visitors to Alvar Aalto’s Architecture at Venice Biennale

Visitors of the Finnish Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale will be treated to daily guided tours of the exhibition featuring the history of the pavilion itself, which Finnish master architect Alvar Aalto designed in 1956, as well as gems of Aalto’s work in Jyväskylä, the capital of his architecture.

The guided tours are a joint venture between Frame Contemporary Art Finland and the City of Jyväskylä for the 57th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. The twin aims of the collaboration are to promote cultural tourism in Jyväskylä, the world capital of Aalto’s architecture, and to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his Finnish Pavilion in Venice.

Alvar Aalto (1898–1975) began and ended his long career in Jyväskylä, and the city is home to more important building complexes designed by him than any other place in the world. The 28 sites include, among other, the Alvar Aalto Museum, the Muuratsalo Experimental House, the Muurame Church and the Säynätsalo Town Hall, considered one of Aalto’s greatest masterpieces.

The Finnish Exhibition Pavilion was completed for the 1956 Venice Biennale. Overseen by Aalto’s business partner Maire Gullichsen, the project aimed to acquire a dedicated exhibition space for Finland at the world’s oldest art biennale. The blue wooden pavilion was intended originally as a temporary structure but was eventually left intact in the Giardini gardens near the Italian pavilion. The building gained fame along with Aalto’s growing international reputation, and it is today protected. The pavilion in Venice is the only building designed by Alvar Aalto that was completed in Italy during his lifetime.

The Venice Biennale continues to be the most important international venue for Finnish contemporary art. Organised every other year, it is one of the most prestigious contemporary art events in the world, with about half a million visitors. This year the biennale will open to the public on 13 May and will remain open until 26 November 2017.

“Aalto’s architecture speaks to cultural travellers from all over the world. Cooperation with Frame at the Venice Biennale provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to market Jyväskylä as Alvar Aalto’s very own town and also as an attractive tourist destination,” says Susanne Sarvilinna, Marketing Manager of Visit Jyväskylä.

“In spite of many twists and turns in the course of its history, the Alvar Aalto pavilion in Venice has remained intact for over 60 years, and many people come to visit the pavilion just for the sake of its architecture. As it is the centenary of Finland’s independence, it seemed especially important to us to highlight the history of the Finnish Pavilion in Venice, and we were very pleased to be partnering with Jyväskylä, Aalto’s very own town,” says Raija Koli, Director of Frame.

As the information centre and international promoter of Finnish contemporary art, Frame is in charge of commissioning and producing the exhibitions in the Finnish Pavilion. The 2017 show is entitled The Aalto Natives, a joint effort by Erkka Nissinen (born 1975) from Jyväskylä and Nathaniel Mellors (born 1975) from Doncaster. An installation characterised by absurd humour, the piece was created specifically for the biennale. The exhibition in the Finnish Pavilion is the largest single contemporary art project on the programme of the Finnish centenary.

The exhibition will feature daily Alvar Aalto tours of the pavilion at 15.00. Lasting for a quarter of an hour, the tours will be led by guides, most of whom are students of curating at Aalto University and the Academy of Fine Arts at University of the Arts Helsinki. The tours are in English and are included in the admission price.

The main sponsor of The Aalto Natives is the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, along with Visit Finland and the City of Jyväskylä. The main public supporter of the exhibition is the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, and it is also supported by Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Jack Bakker, THE EKKARD COLLECTION, the Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture, Finland 100, Dommering Collection, Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem, Cobra Museum of Modern Art, the Finnish Embassy in Rome, MONITOR, Ellen de Bruijne Projects, stigter van Doesburg, The Box and Matt’s Gallery.


More information:

Heljä Franssila, Head of Communications, Frame Contemporary Art Finland
+358 (0)44 728 9908,

Susanne Sarvilinna, Marketing Manager, Visit Jyväskylä
+358 (0)40 088 5786,


Photo: The Finnish Pavilion in the Giardini gardens at Venice Biennale. Frame Contemporary Art Finland / Katja Lösönen