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Ålborg, Denmark Elissa and Alvar Aalto North Jutland Art Museum


Elissa and Alvar Aalto

North Jutland Art Museum

Ålborg, Denmark


“True architecture exists only where man stands in the center.”
Alvar Aalto



One of the most influential architects of the 20th century, Aalto continues to have a profound influence both within Finland and internationally.
The North Jutland Art Museum is a prime example of modern Scandinavian architecture. Built from 1968 to 1972, it was designed by Elissa and Alvar Aalto as a showplace for 20th-century Danish and international art.


Situated on the edge of a large area of parks and woodland the North Jutland Art Museum rises like a ziggurat to meet the adjoining hillside. The clean lines of the marble clad building volumes, and the green copper roofs, blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings.

On the ground level the central exhibition gallery, and an adjoining sculpture gallery, are surrounded by a series of long sky lit galleries, seven smaller exhibition rooms, a chamber music room, the entrance hall, and the administration offices. Additional exhibition rooms,
a café, cloakroom, lecture rooms, a study group room, a workshop and a library, are located on the lower ground floor.





Because of a highly flexible mobile wall system the exhibition spaces are can accommodate the requirements of each individual exhibition.
Natural and diffused light enters the galleries from a variety of skylights reconfirming Alvar Aalto’s brilliant manipulation of the Nordic light.
The white carrara marble covering most of the floor areas add to the light and airy feeling in the galleries.




The building also features a children's museum and an outdoor amphitheater.


The attention to details and use of solid natural materials, marble, wood, copper and glass, in addition to superb craftsmanship, makes the building unmistakably Aalto.




Like all great art, Aalto’s architecture has the power to evoke feelings, and the right to its own place in the world's cultural heritage.
Drawing courtesy North Jutland Art Museum

Total area: approx. 6,000 square meters
Completed: 1972

Architects: Elissa and Alvar Aalto
Collaborating architect: Jean-Jacques Baruël

This book was published to accompany a 1998 retrospective exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Alvar Aalto:

Between Humanism and Materialism

Edited by Peter Reed.
Essays by Kenneth Frampton, Pekka Korvenmaa, Juhani Pallasmaa and Marc Treib.

"His subtle manipulation of materials, respect for their natural and historical associations, utilization of a formal vocabulary that favored free form over regularity, and his profound and acute understanding of the individual site and circumstance created an original architecture that was designed to appeal on many levels, not the least of which were its sensory, visceral and ultimately human qualities."
Peter Reed

The book offers a thorough study of an innovative and prolific master, whom Frank Lloyd Wright termed a genius. This fresh, penetrating examination of Aalto's work and influence includes essays by five notable critics and historians. Some 50 of Aalto's projects - houses, town halls, cultural institutions, factories, furniture and glass designs, and regional plans - from all periods of his extraordinarily productive career are illustrated and described, using much previously unpublished and newly photographic material.

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