Alvar Aalto Museum Extension in Jyväskylä

A-Konsultit designs Aalto2 Museum Centre, a new architecture that seamlessly integrates with the pre-existing one designed by the Finnish master.

“Nemo propheta in patria” was the name of the motorboat that Alvar Aalto designed and made in the 1950s to navigate the endless lakes of central Finland. But this time, the Latin motto (No man is a prophet in his own land) is simply not true, and it might have been used precisely with a good luck and propitiatory intent.

Alvar Aalto is not merely a national hero in Finland; his legacy transcends the realms of architecture and design. Such is his influence that his hometown of Jyväskylä, besides being adorned with numerous private buildings designed in his earliest career, entrusted him with the construction of several iconic public edifices. These include the University (1951-1971), the famous Säynätsalo Town Hall (1949-1952), the Museum of Central Finland (1959-1961), and finally the Alvar Aalto Museum (1971-1973).

Rare are the museums of architecture in the world, and even rarer are the cases where an architect is honored with a museum entirely dedicated to their work. Yet, the case of Alvar Aalto stands unparalleled, as he also designed his own museum.

Aalto2 Museum Centre, extension. Photo Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto -säätiö, Alvar Aalto Foundation

Despite the well-known Nordic reluctance – he himself used to say, “I don’t like the idea of a museum devoted to one man – Instead it should be vital, where the arts and architecture are displayed from many angles” – the Alvar Aalto Museum, named in his honor, showcases a significant collection of his works. Functioning openly as an Art Museum, the building is part of Aalto’s articulated urban project aimed at creating new spaces for culture, art, and architecture within the green expanse of the Jyväskylä University campus district.

The Aalto2 Museum Centre was inaugurated in 2023, marking the 125th anniversary celebration of Aalto’s birth. Designed by A-Konsultit Studio, which comprises founding partners who were direct collaborators of the master, this project involves the construction of a new building that acts as a connecting link between the Museum of Central Finland and the Alvar Aalto Museum. A-Konsultit also supervised the renovation and refurbishment of both existing museums. The new architecture seamlessly integrates with the existing structures in terms of design language and materials, while also reviving an idea proposed by Aalto himself but never realized: connecting the two buildings. Furthermore, it features a reception space housing an open area for events within the new museum hub that enhances the flow between various exhibition spaces, and it includes amenities such as a shop and café, catering to visitors of both museums.

The Main Exhibition Hall (1971-73). Photo Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto -säätiö, Alvar Aalto Foundation

The original idea Aalto had of creating a cultural forum aimed at preserving, transmitting, animating, and relating the history of Finland, modern architecture, industrial design, contemporary art, and science, has finally become reality. And the program of public activities will make this remote yet central town even more attractive by promoting and fostering a deeper understanding of the scope of thought and design of one of the most extraordinary figures of the twentieth century in architecture, design, and arts.

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