Are you thinking about visiting Adventures in Moominland this Christmas holiday? We’ve just been to the interactive exhibition that lets you explore the magical world of acclaimed Finnish author Tove Jansson (1914‐2001) and her famous creation Family Moomintroll. It’s a great exhibition which we all enjoyed. Tickets are going fast, so read more about it and then do book ahead if you want to see it.
When you think of the Moomins are they friendly or scary? We were surprised to find out the Moomintroll first came to life as a scary creature that lived behind the stove, thought up by an uncle to scare young Tove off from midnight raids on the family larder! Her first drawing came after an argument with her brother, when she scrawled a scary monster in chalk on the side of the garden shed. Since then, though, the Moomin family have evolved into the lovable creatures we know today, and we learnt more about that in the immersive, interactive exhibition.
The exhibition starts on the ground floor of the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Gather with your group of around 13-16 people, and your host takes you through the pages of a giant book (see left) into a semi darkened room where you hear Sandi Toksvig’s voice and see your first Moomintroll.
After than you listen, look and explore. We sat in a tent, passed through a tropical forest, crossed a snowy woodland and voyaged on a boat. The different ‘rooms’ were beautifully constructed, and totally magical for the children in the party – I visited with a 7, 11 and 14 year old. In each room you could examine rare archive objects and see some of the original illustration;, artworks and 3D models while finding out more about how the Moomins came about. There are also letters and personal items from Tove’s studio in Helsinki and her family island of Klovharu, where she lived for almost thirty years. (We saw Tove’s floral headdress, below, right)
Did you know the first two books, where the Moomin family are threatened by a flood and a comet were written in response to the second word war? Several of the Moomin stories, such as Comet in Moominland (1946) and Moomin Midwinter (1957) were written against the backdrop of political and socio-economic change in Finland and heavily influenced by Tove’s relationships with family, friends and lovers which defined the narrative and character development. Written during a time of hardship and war, the tolerant world of Moominvalley offered a refuge from the harshness of reality. Tove explored her art and own sexuality within the confines of this changing political landscape – and her friends, enemies, fears and hopes often found themselves manifested in the complex and emotional stories.
All the children enjoyed the experience, and were keen to go home and check out the Moomin books that they haven’t yet read. I bought a few Moomin themed gifts and some to add to my Moomin stash! The interactive tour takes about an hour, and we combined it with a Christmassy day on the Southbank, taking selfies with elves and enjoying food from some of the many stalls.
Adventures in Moominland runs until 23 April 2017. These are also Moomin themed events during WOW – Women of the World festival (March 2017) and Imagine Children’s Festival (February 2017). The exhibition is recommended for ages 7+. Tickets are timed for specific tours and cost from £10-£16.50 depending on whether you go at peak time or not. There is still some availability for the Christmas holidays, but you do need to book in advance so visit the Southbank Centre website here or call 020 7960 4200