This year’s summer exhibition at the Alvar Aalto Museum is entitled Schildt and Aalto. Modern humanists. The exhibition is open to the public from June 2–September 17, 2017 in the museum’s Gallery in Jyväskylä. It tells of the friendship and collaboration which existed between Göran Schildt, the writer, and Alvar Aalto, the architect. These two very different personalities shared a similar set of values, were extensively cultivated and had considerable interest in Mediterranean culture. The exhibition is a mark of respect towards the life’s work of Göran Schildt and pays homage to the friendship between two modern humanists.
The writer and art historian Doctor Göran Schildt (1917-2009) is perhaps best known for his travel writing about the voyages in the Mediterranean of his sailing yacht the Daphne.
Also present on one of these voyages, a trip up the Nile in 1954-55 were newly-weds Elissa and Alvar Aalto (1898-1976). Although the Aaltos were only on board for a couple of days, the voyage increased the interaction between the two gentlemen, who had met some years earlier. As a mark of the long-lasting friendship between the two, Alvar Aalto offered to design a home for Göran and Christine Schildt in Tammisaari. The peculiarities of the house, the Villa Skeppet, completed in 1970, include its external form which resembles the prow of a boat, and the sculptural open hearth in the living room, which follows the shape of a sail.
Göran Schildt’s role as protector of the life’s work and intellectual heritage of Alvar Aalto, has been especially significant. Schildt began working on a biography of the architect in the late 1970s, which was published in three separate volumes, The Early Years, The Decisive Years and The Mature Years. The fourth volume of the biography, Alvar Aalto – A Life’s Work, which took the form of a cumulative catalogue of Aalto’s work, was published in the 1990s.
Schildt’s work was also intertwined with the setting up of the Alvar Aalto Foundation, up to and including 1968. Schildt, who was one of the founder members, was instrumental in ensuring that the drawings belonging to Aalto’s office were preserved as a complete entity and that work started on putting them into some sort of order. Today, the drawings collection is archived at the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä and is a key resource for both Finnish and foreign research on Aalto’s architecture. Gems from the drawings collection are presented in the exhibition for the public to see, both in Finland and abroad.
The exhibition has been produced in collaboration between the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Christine and Göran Schildt Foundation to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Göran Schildt and the centenary of Finland’s independence. The exhibition will be on show in the Gallery at the Alvar Aalto Museum, Jyväskylä, and subsequently at the Villa Schildt in Tammisaari. The exhibition will be accompanied by a generous repertoire of spin-off events.