Museum Stories

Tove Jansson And Her Moomin World

Zuzanna Stańska 23 October 2017 min Read

I hope you know Moomins from your childhood! It was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. It was a surprise to me, when I was told that the writer of the book – Tove Marika Jansson was also a painter, illustrator and comic strip author.

Tove Jansson, Moomin illustration. Moomintroll diving into the deep.
Tove Jansson, Moomin illustration. Moomintroll diving into the deep.

Brought up by artistic parents, Jansson studied art from 1930 to 1938 in Stockholm, Helsinki and then Paris. Her first solo art exhibition was in 1943. At the same time, she was writing short stories and articles for publication, as well as creating the graphics for book covers and other purposes. She continued to work as an artist for the rest of her life, alongside her writing. All the illustration in the Moomin books were created by her.

Tove Jansson in 1956
Tove Jansson in 1956

As a visual artist Jansson was a multi-talented being able to use many different techniques and to follow different style trends. She created a variety of paintings, public works as well as the graphics. Her starting point was always to present something real and concrete like landscapes, portraits and combinations. 

Tove Jansson, Party in the Countryside, Helsinki Art Museum
Tove Jansson, Party in the Countryside, Helsinki Art Museum

Public works and other decorative paintings were important part of Tove Jansson´s artwork. Fresco at the Helsinki City Hall, murals at Aurora Children´s Hospital in Helsinki and number of murals in schools and kindergartens as well as the altarpiece at Teuva church are part of her most significants public works. During her career Tove Jansson had also several solo exhibitions and by comparing these the development of her artistic style can be seen.

Tove Jansson, Before the Masquerade, 1943
Tove Jansson, Before the Masquerade, 1943

Jansson wrote the Moomin books for children, starting in 1945 with The Moomins and the Great Flood. The next two books, Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll, published in 1946 and 1948 respectively, saw the series achieve high sales.

Moomins in the Forest. Art print by Tove Jansson
Moomins in the Forest. Art print by Tove Jansson

And guess what – in Finland you can visit the Moomin Museum! It is a recently opened experiential art museum for art lovers and Moomin fans of all ages.

Moomin Museum inside
Moomin Museum inside

The exhibits comprise a unique collection of original Moomin art donated to Tampere Art Museum by Jansson in 1986. The collection was previously on display in Tampere Art Museum’s Moominvalley from 1987 to 2016. When it was moved to its new venue in Tampere Hall, its name was officially changed to the Moomin Museum.

Find out more:

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