Moomin Museum: Visiting a childhood favourite
Text: Josefine Older Steffensen | Photos © Jari Kuusenaho / Laura Vanzo
T he Moomin family has taken the world by storm for over 60 years with their loving nature and fun adventures. In Tampere, Finland, the Moomin world comes alive at the Moomin Museum, which is home to the original Moomin illustrations and books. In spring 2019, the museum will open a new exhibition showcasing the history of the Moomin animations, as well as a Moomin Museum Midwinter one-day event.
The Moomin Museum is the only one of its kind in the world. Tove Jansson, the creator of the Moomins, donated the entire Moomin art collection to the museum in 1986, and it has been on display since the year after. In June 2017, a brand new museum opened to house the collection where visitors find themselves immersed in the permanent exhibition, Guess What Happens Next?, which tells the story of all the Moomin books written and illustrated by Jansson.
“There are about 300 original Moomin illustrations on display in our permanent exhibition,” explains Minna Honkasalo, researcher at the Moomin Museum. “It’s always exciting to see people’s reactions and to see them discover the originals of the characters they’ve loved since childhood.”
A midwinter spectacular
On 2 March 2019, the Moomin world will come alive in Tampere. Inspired by the book Moominland Midwinter, where Moomintroll wakes up from hibernation to discover a new world to enjoy with his friends, the Moomin Museum and Visit Tampere wanted to create the same adventure for the locals and visitors of Tampere. “The winters in Finland are long, cold and dark, but that’s not to say they can’t be enjoyable!”
This year, the event brought 10,000 visitors, and next year’s event is set to be even bigger. “There are many activities such as ice skating, snow-shoe walking, saunas, an outdoor hot tub, live music, tipis and Finnish food, as well as rolling in the snow after the sauna, as us Finns do,” says Honkasalo. Everything on the day is free, apart from food and drink, but it is possible to bring a picnic along and enjoy it by one of the many fires.
“Because the days are so dark, we light up the park to create a real sense of magic and a wonderful atmosphere. It almost feels like you’re part of one of the Moomin stories,” Honkasalo explains.
Thrills and cuddles
The first Moomin animation to premiere was a German animation in 1959. Since then, Moomin animations have aired in over 120 countries. The new exhibition, Moomin Animations – Thrills and Cuddles, opening in spring 2019, is focused on the history of the numerous Moomin animations. The exhibition will showcase the different versions of the Moomin animations, focusing on the different techniques used in different periods.
For anyone who is a fan of animation or the Moomins, or both, this is bound to be an exciting exhibition, with everything from the original animations being shown to hand-drawn sketches of the animations and three-dimensional models, sounds samples and digital mock-ups.
Particularly unique to the Moomins is their worldwide fame. This also means that there are many interpretations of the iconic stories, and in the exhibition, these are shown alongside each other to demonstrate the cultural interpretations of the original stories.
Encouraging grown-ups to play
“On the day we opened the new museum, we had a queue of visitors outside from across the world,” says Honkasalo. “The visitors were mainly adults wanting to reconnect with their childhood favourites. It’s wonderful to see the impact the Moomins have had on people, and continue to have.” In the year since it opened, the museum has had 120,000 visitors.
The museum is not only home to exciting exhibitions, but also to a studio and a reading room. The studio has different workshops for adults and children alike, where they can discover more about the Moomins and their adventures. Visitors can make their own interpretations of the Moomin stories, sometimes with the same drawing or painting techniques Jansson used, or, for example, with shadow play, music or animation.
The reading room has Moomin books in over 30 languages and is open to everyone. “In total, the stories have been translated into 52 languages, so we’re lacking a few, but there should be a language that everyone can understand. The reading room is a space where young and old can sit and enjoy the fantastic stories,” says Honkasalo.
The Moomin Museum is much more than simply a museum showcasing the illustrations; it is an emotional museum where adults, children and families can reconnect with the Moomins and enjoy the thrilling stories and the many comforting messages behind them. “The Moomins are incredible and have taught many generations about taking care of each other and being kind and friendly. There’s something very magical about them,” concludes Honkasalo.
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