Museum Spotlight: The Moomin Museum

In our latest Museum Spotlight, we interview Monika Antikainen the curator of the world’s only museum dedicated to the Moomins - the hippo-like creatures dreamt up by the artist and illustrator, Tove Jansson.

Jansson published some 15 books featuring the Moomintroll family and their friends in Moominvalley - books that are treasured by millions of adults and children around the world and that have been translated into over 50 different languages. Today, Moomins are one of Finland’s best loved brands. They adorn the wings of Finnair and Moomin memorabilia generates some £600m in annual global sales.

The museum, which opened in June 2017 and is based in Tampere, Finland, tells the whole story of the Moomins, starting from the Great Flood and the mad midsummer’s floating theatre to the mysterious disappearance of the Moomins one grey November day. 

In all, the exhibition features nearly 400 original Moomin illustrations and around 30 intricate models of scenes from the Moomin books including an five-storey model of the Moominhouse  selected from the Tampere Art Museum Moominvalley Collection. The house was built by Jansson, her partner, graphic artist, Tuulikki Pietilä and their friend, the physician Pentti Eistola.


Museum Bookstore: What should visitors expect when they visit the Moomin Museum

Monika Antikainen: 

The Moomin Museum is a longtime dream come true. Even if the collection has been on display since 1987 in Tampere city library’s Moominvalley, the collection now has got even more magical facilities and there is a bigger part of the collection on display. The core of the collection consists of original illustrations by Tove Jansson for the twelve Moomin books she wrote and illustrated between 1945 and 1977. Therefore the first permanent exhibition follows these stories in the chronological order that the books first were published in Swedish.

The original illustrations and paintings displayed at each book stop reveal how Tove’s style of illustration evolved and how the characters changed from book to book. Jansson’s original texts are featured alongside the illustrations and visitors can listen to dramatised re-enactments of scenes from the books.

We have visitors that have spent up to five hours in the museum - the museum which has been created so that you totally can forget about the outside world as you enter its magical world. And on top of that you can unleash your inner artist in the Moomin Museum’s Studio! 


Museum Bookstore: Why do you think it is important to tell the story of the Moomins?

Monika Antikainen: 

The Moomin books tell us a story about tolerance and friendship, the importance of being seen, the meaning of family and a strong connection and respect for nature. You can overcome obstacles together, you are allowed to grow as a person and find your particular way of being. Without forgetting the importance to celebrate together!

I cherish these kind of quotes -

From the end of the book “Midsummer Madness” when the Moomin family is returning home as some of their friends are staying at the theatre:

'Moomintroll: “And Whomper and Misabel …Did you notice how happy Misabel looked when she first realized that she could stay on at the theater!”

Moominmamma laughed. “Yes, Misabel was happy. She’ll act in tragedies all her life and have a new face each time. And Whomper’s the new stage manager and every bit as happy. Isn’t it fun when one’s friends get exactly what suits them?

“Yes,” said Moomintroll. “Great fun.”'


Another beautiful and comforting quote is this one from the story “Moominland Midwinter” when Moomintroll asks about the song that Too-ticky he just have met is whistling softly to herself:

'“What song is that?” asked Moomintroll.

“It’s a song of myself,” someone answered from the pit. “A song of Too-ticky, who built a snow lantern, but the refrain is about wholly other things.”

“I see,” Moomintroll said and seated himself in the snow.

“No, you don’t,” replied Too-ticky genially and rose enough to show her red-and-white sweater. “Because the refrain is about the things one can’t understand. I’m thinking about the aurora borealis. You can’t tell if it really does exist or if it just looks like existing. All things are so very uncertain, and that’s exactly what makes me feel reassured.”

She lay down in the snow again and continued looking up at the sky. It was quite black by now.' 

The books have several dimensions and therefore people sometimes ask whether Tove Jansson wrote for children or for adults. The question is somewhat irrelevant because one of the best things is to share a story with a loved one, perhaps so that an adult reads for a child. The stories are timeless, you can easily return to them time after time.   


Museum Bookstore: What are your favourite objects and stories within the museum?

Monika Antikainen: 

It is hard to make a choice. I love the illustrations and the genius in them lays in the fact that Tove Jansson also created the atmosphere in the different stories by the choice of technique and for example paper quality. 

The five storey Moominhouse is magnificent as such and when wandering about in the museum, I always spend a little more time in the winter landscapes from Moominland Midwinter - perhaps also because I love snow as well as the scrape technique Tove Jansson used in some of these illustrations. 

Museum Bookstore : What are your future plans for the museum? 

Monika Antikainen: 

Beside the permanent exhibition, there is a temporary exhibition space that allows the museum to introduce other dimensions to Tove Jansson's production as an illustrator. The museum collections include for example illustrations for classics such as Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and JRR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. The purpose is also to take in other exhibitions of other illustrators. But the core of the museum will always be Tove Jansson’s original Moomin illustrations.





If you are able to get to Tampere, do go and visit this charming and magical museum.

Opening hours: Tue-Fri 9.00 am-7.00 pm, Sat-Sun 11.00 am-6.00 pm, closed Mon

Price: Adults 12€, children 6 €

Address: Tampere Hall, Yliopistonkatu 55, Tampere, Finland



Our enormous thanks to Monika Antikainen and her team at the enchanting Moomin Museum for their time and help with this article.