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September 14 + 15: Heritage Days in Paris

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Corbu’s Cabanon: Reconstruction and Lecture

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Melnikov House on Screen

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August 2013

Victoria & Albert Museum London November 12

First Iconic Houses Symposium in Europe comes to London

Experiencing the Building A Way Forward for Modern House Museums

The Iconic Houses Network and the Finnish Institute in London proudly announce the first Iconic Houses Symposium in Europe taking place 12 November at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The Experiencing the Building: A Way Forward for Modern House Museums symposium focuses on the future of architecturally significant 20th century house museums all around the world, and it is organised by the Finnish Institute in London and the Iconic Houses Network.

The event is marking the first anniversary of the Iconic Houses Network, a world-leading platform for discussion about the conservation, policy and management of modern house museums. The symposium examines our relationship with the modern built heritage by showcasing the whole variety from top attractions and wonderfully restored buildings to sites in danger. The cases include, among others, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat, and the Melnikov House. Tommi Lindh, director of the Alvar Aalto Museum and Foundation and one of the panelists introduces the Finnish expertise in the restoration of modernist buildings.

The keynote speaker, London-based independent curator/writer and senior research fellow at University of the Arts London, James Putnam, explores the potential of modern house museums through contemporary art and artist interventions.

“The Iconic Houses Symposium is an opportunity for a high level debate to take place about the cultural, technical and bureaucratic requirements of maintaining modernist heritage in the 21st century. It has never been more important, to me, to recover and understand the optimism and emancipatory aspirations of modernist architecture, even at a historical moment where those motivations can seem remote and irrelevant. These houses are a global patrimony that tells that story very well", says Kieran Long, Senior Curator of Contemporary Architecture, Design and Digital at the V&A Museum who is chairing the symposium’s panel discussion.

To start the discussion five cases will be explored, including Melnikov House, Villa Tugendhat, Schindler House and Fallingwater. How to build audiences? How to make sure that iconic houses, as an extremely valuable part of our built heritage, will be professionally cared for and passed on intact to future generations? Come and join us!


10.00-10.30 Registration


  • Natascha Drabbe, chair and founder of the Iconic Houses Network, director of the Van Schijndel House, Utrecht: Opening words about
    'The importance of connecting 20th century house museums in a professional network'.
  • Susanna Pettersson, director of the Finnish Institute in London, co-founder of the Iconic Houses Network:
    ‘Modern houses as sites of excitement, joy and fear, introduction to the themes’
  • Clem Cecil, director of Save Britain’s Heritage, London:
    ‘The Melnikov House: the struggle to save an international icon’
  • Iveta Černá, director of Villa Tugendhat, Brno:
    ‘Beyond the glass room: re-restoring of Villa Tugendhat in Brno’
  • Werner Möller, researcher and curator, Bauhaus Dessau:
    ‘Clarity and fuzziness–or the ambiguity of rebuilding the Bauhaus Masters’ House’

13.00-14.00 Lunch


  • Lynda Waggoner, director of the Fallingwater, Mill Run:
    ‘God is in the details: managing the museum experience’
  • Kimberli Meyer, director of the Schindler House, Los Angeles:
    ‘Reconsidering the Schindler House’
  • James Putnam, curator, London:
    ‘Modern house museums as sites of contemporary art interventions’
  • Panel discussion: The Modernist Legacy - Conservation and Utopia
    Panel, chaired by Kieran Long, senior curator Victoria & Albert Museum.
    Panelists: Tommi Lindh, director Alvar Aalto Foundation/Alvar Aalto Museum, Helsinki, Catherine Croft, director of the Twentieth Century Society and Owen Hatherley, writer and journalist, London.
  • Natascha Drabbe and Susanna Pettersson: Closure

Date: Tuesday 12 November 2013
, 10:30am-5pm
Venue: Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre, Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington, London
Admission is free, but please note seats are limited and booking is essential.
For bookings contact: eleanna.breza@finnish-institute.org.uk

The Symposium is supported by Goethe Institut, Skandium, the National Trust’s London Project and the V&A Museum.

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