History

The Finnish pavilion at the Paris 1900 World Fair was an important national milestone, bringing together the contemporary top architects, artists and designers in an effort to portray Finland as a modern and distinctive nation to an international audience.

At the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900 the Finnish cultural elite manifested its national spirit by designing and decorating a whole and separate Finnish pavilion. The overall intention was to present a unified showcase of a strong, independent, and industrious region in a veritable “Temple of the Soul of Finland”. The pavilion was designed for representative purposes by the groundbreaking team of Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen, and furnished with the most advanced pieces of art, handicraft, and industrial products Finland could produce at the time. The pavilion–a complete work of art–was an international success and brought much attention to the previously rather unknown country in the north. Although the building was demolished and the exhibits redistributed or sold after the exhibition, the memory of this Finnish tour de force remained.

In modern days, the building has achieved near mythical status as the archetype of the emerging national image. The renditions of the pavilion have, however, been limited to reprints of old photos. Though important research has been completed, an exhaustive investigation of the aesthetic, cultural, and political discourses of the epoch and their influences on contemporary ideals of the nation still remains to be done.