Eliel Saarinen Exhibition

Facebook / Twitter

Eliel Saarinen and His Beautiful Architecture in Finland

Finland is renowned for its beautiful forests and lakes. It is also home to Finnish modernism, an architectural style that is also popular in Japan. One major figure who helped develop the style was Eliel Saarinen (1873–1950). Saarinen founded an architectural firm with university friends Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren. One of his first jobs at the firm, designing the Finnish pavilion at the 1900 Paris World Fair, won him considerable praise. Initially, Saarinen worked in a style that was dubbed National Romantic, which while influenced by art nouveau was more focused on expressing the country’s traditional cultures. The nationalist ethos behind this style struck a chord with the people of Finland at a time when they were seeking independence from Russia.

Saarinen and his partners eventually built Hvitträsk, a complex designed to be a cross-genre work of art presenting an ideal lifestyle: living quietly in nature inside a home that also served as a venue for social functions with other artists. Saarinen gradually expanded his work into residences, commercial buildings, public buildings, train stations, and urban design. Through this varied portfolio, Saarinen played an important role in modernizing architecture throughout the first half of the 20th century. What began as a multicultural style with a strong focus on traditional Finnish culture gradually morphed into something more distinctive and modernist, presenting a new kind of Finnish identity.

This exhibition focuses on Saarinen’s work in Finland from the time before his emigration to the United States in 1923. Architectural drawings, photographs, and designs of furniture and lifestyle items shed light on Saarinen’s style, at once revolutionary and grounded in nature and the local environment. He was also skilled at using light and shadow to imbue his work with richness. At a time when many people find themselves pausing to rethink their ways of life, visitors may find Saarinen’s works speaking to them at a visceral level.



Finnish pavilion at the World EXPO 1900 – multilayered art, social networks, and hidden messages
The Finnish pavilion at the World Exhibition in Paris 1900 was a huge effort and succeeded partly because of social networks. It was a complete work of art that manifested the true Finnishness in architecture, handicraft and design, visual arts, and music. The artists worked tirelessly, and the result was – magnificent! How did they succeed? What was the idea behind the architecture and the art presented in the pavilion? How did the networks of artists contribute to the creation of the overall work of art?

Speaker Dr. Anna-Maria Wiljanen (Art historian and director of the Finnish Institute in Tokyo)
The lecture will be filmed and uploaded on YouTube, available free of charge from 10 a.m. on July 4th until 6 p.m. on July 6th 2021. Detailed information closer to the date.


General Information

Dates July 3 – September 20, 2021

Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art
4th Floor, Panasonic Tokyo Shiodome Bldg, 1-5-1 Higashi-Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-8301

Hours 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Admittance until 5:30 p.m.)
* Open until 8 p.m. (admittance until 7:30 p.m.) on August 7 and September 3.
Closed Wednesdays and during August 10 – 13
Admission Adults: ¥800
Visitors aged 65 or over carrying proof of age: ¥700
Students (College): ¥600
Students (High / Middle school): ¥400
Admission is free for children in primary school and younger.
Admission is free for disability passbook holders and up to one accompanying adult.

More details at the Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art website

Photo: Finnish Heritage Agency, Historian kuvakokoelma