The world’s most extensive private Aalto collection opens as a virtual exhibition

The Alvar Aalto Museum’s major hit with the public in spring 2021, the Diverse Design – 30 years of passionate collecting exhibition, has opened in virtual format. The exhibition offers an opportunity to take a peek at selected objects from the private collector Pertti Männistö’s unique Aalto collection of more than a thousand objects. The extensive collection includes not only pieces of furniture, lights and glass objects, but also details of interiors designed by Aino and Alvar Aalto. This is the Alvar Aalto Foundation’s first-ever paid virtual exhibition.

“The exhibition is a representative example of a systematically and comprehensively accumulated private collection, which is also notable in international terms. The expansion of the collection has been driven by the collector’s uncompromising desire for knowledge, which in time has also led to a collaboration with the Alvar Aalto Museum. Now, this virtually visitable exhibition makes it possible for people globally to view the Aaltos’ life’s work, from anywhere in the world,” says Mari Murtoniemi, Chief Curator of the Alvar Aalto Museum.

In this exhibition you can explore units constructed around various themes or opt to focus on individual objects. In the virtual version the original exhibition has been augmented with archive material, such as photographs and furniture drawings that illustrate the design and use history of the furniture designed by Aino and Alvar Aalto. Short video clips give us a glimpse into the collector’s experiences when building up his collection. They introduce us, for instance, to the multi-stage design of the furniture for Paimio Sanatorium and the National Pensions Institute, which took the end-users into account. Also on display are rare variations on model A 331, “Beehive”, and model A 110, “Hand Grenade”, lights, and glass objects designed by the Aaltos.

The whole picture of Aino and Alvar Aalto’s design is completed

The objects brought together in this exhibition represent the very first steps in Aino and Alvar Aalto’s industrial design, from the time before true serial production and the mechanization of furniture manufacture. The different variants on the same model of furniture shed light on the arc of development of a specific object, with each item completing the whole picture of the Aaltos’ design. The interiors assembled using the furniture and lights mark the passage of time, with, for instance, a 1940s living room after the Second World War and a 1960s Artek home. The objects reflect the growing prosperity of Finnish society, which also brought new colours to the materials and upholstery fabrics used in Aalto furniture.

Objects from Pertti Männistö’s Aalto collection have been exhibited in various exhibitions in Finland and abroad. “The exhibition resulting from the collaboration between the Alvar Aalto museum and Pertti Männistö culminates in the shared goal of the private collector and public Museum – to record Alvar and Aino Aalto’s important design heritage and make it better known,” says Chief Curator Murtoniemi.

The exhibition also offers an opportunity to visit the sculptural exhibition space of the Alvar Aalto Museum, which is currently closed for renovation. The renovated Alvar Aalto Museum and its exhibitions will open to the public in spring 2023. You can buy a virtual ticket (€6) direct from the exhibition website and the price of one ticket entitles you to two visits to the exhibition.

The technical realization of this virtual Finnish-language exhibition, which will be open until the end of 2023, is by Kupoli.

Visit the Diverse Design – 30 years of passionate collecting virtual exhibition.


Photos Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.