Eliel Saarinen before Cranbrook: Modernism, Architecture, and Finland 1896-1923

Wednesday, November 30th 6:00pm - 7:15pm
Cranbrook Art Museum deSalle Auditorium
39221 Woodward Avenue
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
Lecture by Timo Tuomi, University of Helsinki 
Followed by a Conversation with Kevin Adkisson, Curator, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research  

In-Person Admission
Free for Cranbrook Students (Register by emailing center@cranbrook.edu

Presented by Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research 

A limited number of tickets will be available at the door. 

To view a recording of the lecture, please email center@cranbrook.edu to purchase access. 

Photograph of the National Museum of Helsinki

Join the Cranbrook Center as we welcome renowned Saarinen scholar Timo Tuomi for this special lecture on architect and designer Eliel Saarinen’s career in Finland. The talk will cover the period between Saarinen forming his practice in 1896 (with Helsinki Polytechnic Institute classmates Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren) to Saarinen’s immigration to Chicago in 1923. Exploring the architect’s rise to international fame as both a town planner and architect, key projects, including the Finnish Pavilion for the 1900 Exposition Universelle (Paris Exposition) world’s fair and the Helsinki Central Station, will be discussed in detail. Saarinen’s break from Finnish National Romanticism to new, innovative modern designs is one of the great success stories of early-20th century architecture. Cranbrook, where Saarinen served as both campus architect and founding President of Cranbrook Academy of Art, became the place where he would refine his art even further. 

Following the lecture, Center Curator Kevin Adkisson will sit down with Professor Tuomi to discuss more details of Saarinen’s transcontinental legacy. Through images of Saarinen’s European and American buildings (including the Cranbrook campus), continuities and innovations in Saarinen’s architecture will be explored. Audience questions are encouraged. 

Photograph of a detail of Helsinki Central Station

Timo Tuomi, PhD, is an art historian and adjunct professor at the University of Helsinki. He has been the Head of Research at the Museum of Finnish Architecture (1994-2009) and Director of Espoo City Museum (2009-2017). Tuomi has written widely on Scandinavian town planning and architecture history. His writings on Eliel and Eero Saarinen include "Embassies and Chancelleries: The Necessity of Unity" in Eero Saarinen, Shaping the Future (2008), and a double monograph, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, an enlarged version of which will be published in English in 2023. His latest essay on Eliel Saarinen was for the first exhibition of Saarinen’s original drawings in Japan last year. 

Photograph of the speaker with his children
Photograph of a child's playroom

Cranbrook Art Museum is accessed through Cranbrook’s main entrance at 39221 Woodward Avenue. Free parking is available on the east side of the Art Museum and in the parking deck located midway between Cranbrook Art Museum and Cranbrook Institute of Science. 

Cranbrook Art Museum
39221 Woodward Avenue
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48304

For additional information in advance of the lecture, please email center@cranbrook.edu or call the Center at 248.645.3307. For information and assistance on the night of the lecture, please call the Art Museum’s Front Desk at 248.645.3320. 

Tickets are non-refundable. However, with advance notice, your ticket may be transferred to another participant for the lecture. With at least three days advance notice, your ticket may also be converted to a tax-deductible donation to Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. 

Barrier-free access to de Salle Auditorium is accommodated through the New Studios Building on the southeast side of Cranbrook Art Museum. Accessible parking spaces are located at the south end of the Art Museum’s main parking lot, in front of the New Studios Building. Visitors that would like to use the barrier-free entrance should use the ramped sidewalk that leads to the front of the New Studios Building and enter the building through the glass vestibule to the right. Once in the vestibule there is a phone where visitors may call a Visitor Services Representative at extension 3320. We encourage visitors that would like assistance to also call the Center in advance of the lecture at 248.645.3307. 

Banner image: Helsinki Central Station in Helsinki, Finland. Architect Eliel Saarinen, 1907-1919. Saarinen Family Scrapbook, Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research. 

National Museum in Helsinki, Finland. Architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen, 1910. Photography by Mahlum, July 2007. Public Domain. 

Detail of Helsinki Central Station in Helsinki, Finland. Architect Eliel Saarinen, 1907-1919. Photography by Adam Jones. Flickr, CC-BY-2.0. 

Timo Tuomi and family at Hvitträsk. Courtesy of Timo Tuomi. 

Playroom at Hvitträsk in Kirkkonummi, Finland. Architect Eliel Saarinen, c. 1905. Photography by Markku Haverinen, August 2000. Collection of Finnish Heritage Agency, CC-BY-4.0. 

Registration for this event has closed.