Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future

January 30, 2009 - April 27, 2009
Kemper Art Museum


Eero Saarinen was one of the most prolific, unorthodox, and controversial architects of the twentieth century. By exploring Saarinen's entire output of more than fifty built and proposed projects--including St. Louis's iconic Gateway Arch--Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future will be the first opportunity to understand the architect's collective work in the larger context of postwar modern architecture through full-scale mock-ups and a selection of drawings, models, photographs, films, and other ephemera.

Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future features materials offering an in-depth look at Saarinen's greatest designs, which encompassed a varied range of architectural scales--lighting, furniture, prefabricated elements, curtain wall systems, residences, religious and educational buildings, corporate headquarters, airports, campus and community designs, and urban planning. Deploying progressive construction techniques and a highly personal, exuberant, and at times metaphorical aesthetic, Saarinen's work defied modernist orthodoxies and gave form to the postwar American ideal of an open-ended society of unbounded choice and diversityan ideal that persists to this day. The exhibition reveals facets of the architect's diverse network of friends, family, and colleagues. Film, press clippings, documents, and photographs by Ezra Stoller and Balthazar Korab will paint a portrait of a man guided by a vision of modern life as a constant collaborative dialogue infused with clear purpose.

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International tour

Kunsthalle Helsinki in Helsinki, Finland
The Art Hall at Tullinløkka in Oslo, Norway
International Centre for Urbanism, Architecture and Landscape in Brussels, Belgium
Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, MI
National Building Museum in Washington, DC
Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis, MO
Museum of the City of New York in New York, NY
Yale University Art Gallery and Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, CT

Exhibition catalog

Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future is accompanied by an ambitious catalog featuring over 450 illustrations, many in color, and composed of a wealth of materials including interprative essays, a detailed chronology of Saarinen's life and career, and a selection of writings by Saarinen himself. The catalog is published by Yale University Press.

Educator resources

The Museum's Education department connects special exhibitions with students of all levels through specialized tours, curriculum plans, hands-on activities, and more. Download the Connections Guide for the exhibition for more details.

Organizers and sponsors

Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future is organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York; the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki; and the National Building Museum, Washington D.C. with the support of the Yale University School of Architecture. The exhibition is curated by Donald Albrecht in conjunction with an international consortium of Finnish and American scholars.

Exhibition support

The global sponsor for the exhibition is ASSA ABLOY. Additional support is provided by Autodesk, Florence Knoll Bassett, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, Jeffrey Klein, Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, Earle I. Mack, the Ministry of Education, Finland, Marvin Suomi, and anonymous donors.

Local Support

Local exhibition support is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; James M. Kemper, Jr.; the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation; the Hortense Lewin Art Fund; the AIA St. Louis Chapter Scholarship Trust; Cannon Design; U. S. Steel Granite City Works; Knoll; Mackey Mitchell Architects; HOK; Arts and Education Council; Design Within Reach; Arcturis; John R. Goodall Charitable Trust; and individual supporters of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. Local program support is provided by ASSA ABLOY, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Consulate General of Finland. Promotional support is provided by The Gateway Arch Riverfront.