From shoemaker to industrialist and art collector – the Emil Aaltonen Museum presents the versatile life of its namesake. Emil Aaltonen (1869–1949) was in charge of, for example, the Aaltonen Shoe Factory, the Lokomo machine workshop, and the Sarvis plastics factory. He also did some farming at his farm (Ylikartano), amassed a significant art collection, and supported various social projects. The museum’s main exhibition showcases this versatile man’s activities in society and industry, and this picture is deepened by special exhibitions on fields of industry in which Aaltonen operated.
The museum also puts on display a part of Aaltonen’s art collection. This collection is dominated by old Finnish art. Aaltonen was not very interested in modernism and its impressions, expressions, and abstraction. He believed that art can nourish the soul, which is why the works in the collection were hung, for example, on the walls of factory offices.
The Aaltonen collection displays art from the 19th and early 20th century, including works by Robert Wilhelm Ekman, Alexander Laureus, Werner Holmberg, Victor Westerholm, Fanny Churberg, Albert Edelfelt, Helene Schjerfbeck, Maria Wiik, Hjalmar Munsterhjelm, and Pekka Halonen.
The Emil Aaltonen Museum operates in Pyynikinlinna, completed in 1924, which is in a peaceful neighbourhood of villas built in the early 20th century. The two-floor, white-plastered brick building with multiple classical details is a manifestation of the admiration for and application of Antiquity and Italian architecture in the Nordic classicism of the 1920s.