One walks through the exhibition touching and examining, another reading only the texts that decorate the walls in three languages, a third carefully examines the showcases and combines the items and belongings from Tove Jansson’s life to the Moomin stories. A fourth might pay the most attention to the small critters that inhibit the exhibition. Each visitor experiences the Moomins 75 exhibition at the National Museum of Finland in their own way.
Adventure and the big questions of life
A forest that one walks through accompanied by critters. The bridge to Moominhouse. A tent. A hammock. A well in which one can see their future life partner. A campfire that can be stoked with prohibit-signs. Climbing ropes. A cave that one can peek into. A floating, swinging theatre stage where you can perform. Seaside cliffs that you can climb. Boats you can row. Sheets of ice you can jump on. A snowbank you can climb on. This is how the National Museum of Finland’s freshly installed Moomins 75 exhibition looks like, at least in the eyes of children. For adults, the exhibition opens up a world behind the Moomin stories, through Tove Jansson’s personal items, quotes, and biography.
Courage, love, freedom! The Moomins 75 exhibition opens today at the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki. The exhibit’s soundscape, lighting, scenery, subtitles as well as 40 small display cases guarantee a personal experience for all visitors. The exhibition’s head designer Alexander Reichstein experiences, for example, the first room’s dark atmosphere to correspond with the atmosphere of the first Moomin story, Moomins and the great flood, even though the trees have been borrowed from the picture book The book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My. However, this too is a matter of personal interpretation when visiting the exhibition.
The head designer wanted to create an exhibition that he himself would have wanted to see as a child
Alexander Reichstein who’s in charge of the artistic execution and the exhibit’s architecture first got acquainted with the Moomins in the ’80s in his mother tongue Russian. His mother worked as a translator and was of the opinion that the skilfully translated Moomin books should be a part of the family’s library and Reichstein was already naturally fascinated by them as young.
The artist, who’s specialized in children’s culture, has in his latest commitment at the Finnish National Museum chosen to focus on the atmosphere rather than making an exhibition that’s entirely by the books.
“I wanted to create an exhibition that I, myself, would’ve wanted to see as a child. We haven’t, however, forgotten about adults with whom children always visit the exhibition. In this exhibition, there are so-called “individual layers” for each of us, and everyone experiences the exhibition in their own way, maybe even in different ways during each visit”, Alexander Reichstein says.
Alexander Reichstein playing on the floating theatre stage.
The Moomins 75 honorary exhibition is entirely based on Tove Jansson’s original Moomin works, however, no original illustrations are seen in the exhibition. What is displayed, though, is some of Tove Jansson’s personal items that help guide the visitor through Tove Jansson’s own life and experiences that acted as a huge source of inspiration to the Moomin stories.
The comprehensive art display is worth experiencing without a rush.
The Moomins don’t look at the time, therefore it’s natural that the National Museum of Finland’s exhibition is to be experienced at your own pace and that time is spent in your own way, acquainting yourself with what you find interesting. The big, creatively made exhibition spaces invite you to play and explore while the exhibition and showcase texts open up the philosophy of the Moomins while also encouraging visitors to reflect on the values of life. Although the general situation has forced the exhibition team to remove some functionalities and interactive elements from the exhibition, it gives a lot also to those who would have loved to try out roleplaying clothes on a floating theatre stage.
During the exhibition, visitors may find themselves pondering over the meanings of friendship, love, respect towards nature, longing for adventure, equality, tolerance, freedom or bravery. Sirke Happonen, also called a Moomin expert, has skilfully written texts on the walls of the exhibition spaces that open up new perspectives as to why the Moomin stories have enchanted generations one after another and how the Moomins and their values are constantly relevant.
“We often ponder which Moomin work is for children and which is for adults. But Tove was a master in combining these two worlds. We’ve strived to do the same with this exhibition. The world of Moomin works is enormously faceted and inspiring, playful and serious at the same time”, Sirke Happonen summarises.
Moomin Character’s artistic director and chairman of the board Sophia Jansson finds the National Museum of Finland’s Moomin exhibition to be important and bringing life to the fantasy worlds. “I’m happy that the exhibition also highlights the important values of the Moomin stories, from bravery to respect towards nature, since they are more topical now than ever”, Sophia Jansson says.
Alexander Reichstein gives a final tip to potential visitors: “You should spend up to 10-20min in the sea-room to see all the elements from different stories that have been animated and combined with watercolour illustrations from the Dangerous Journey”
Courage, freedom, love! The Moomins 75 – exhibition guided tours and events
The National Museum of Finland has created an impressive range of programs in support of the exhibition. You can acquaint yourself with the exhibition through various guided tours or participate in workshops, book circles, events, or challenge yourself to reflect over things that are important to you. Get acquainted with the wide selection of programs through the National Museum of Finland’s webpage.
Courage, freedom, love! The Moomins 75 exhibition is shown at the National Museum of Finland until 28/2 2021.