Exhibition “Moomin Animations – Thrills and Cuddles” coming to National Children’s Museum in D.C.

Moomins, the beloved fairytale creatures living in Moominvalley and created by Finnish author Tove Jansson, are the subject of a visiting exhibition at National Children’s Museum as of September. The upcoming exhibition, on loan from the world’s only Moomin Museum located in Tampere, Finland, showcases the universal values of the Moomins, such as equality, inclusion and respect for nature.

Still from the 2019 animation series Moominvalley. Moomintroll and Snufkin stand next to each other in a room and look up.
© Moomin Characters™ / © Gutsy Animations 2021

The exhibition, Moomin Animations – Thrills and Cuddles, which is brought to the United States by the Embassy of Finland in Washington D.C., will open at National Children’s Museum on September 3, 2021, and will be on display inside the Visiting Exhibit Hall until January 9, 2022. This is the first time this exhibition travels abroad. It highlights the rich history of Moomin animations, which are based on the Moomin books and comic strips created by the renowned Finnish artist and author Tove Jansson (1914–2001). National Children’s Museum is a nationally recognized cultural and educational institution that serves children and families through science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) focused experiences.

The Moomins are white and roundish fantastical characters with large snouts. The Moomin family and their friends live an adventurous life in the idyllic and peaceful Moominvalley.

“The Moomins always treat nature with respect and live in harmony with the environment. The Moomin values, such as compassion and open-mindedness, are current, independent of time and place, and more relevant than perhaps ever before. As we follow the stories of Moomintroll’s growth and encounters, we can learn more about our own humanity, relationships and emotions,” explains Roleff Kråkström, Managing Director of Moomin Characters.

Despite the exciting adventures in the Moomin animations and books, the thrills never grow too scary – the cozy warmth of the Moomin world will always make one feel safe and snug again.

Moomin animations from different decades and countries

In 60 years, numerous Moomin animations have been made around the world. The exhibition shows how the treasured stories have evolved from the very first Moomin film to premiere on TV, a German marionette animation film (1959), to the most recent, magnificent 3D animation series, Moominvalley (2019), created by the Finnish production company Gutsy Animations. The exhibition includes the best-known Moomin animation so far, the Finnish-Dutch-Japanese joint production Tales from Moominvalley (1990), which aired in over 120 countries. On display are also a Polish Moomin animation from 1977 and a Japanese animation from 1969 – the latter has aired only in Japan before being included in this exhibition.

Screen grab of a black-and-white Moomin animation series with Moomintroll and Snufkin.
© DIE MÜMINFAMILIE, 1959, Augsburger Puppenkiste / Hessischer Rundfunk

The exhibition presents digigraphs of Jansson’s original artwork and stills from the animations to show the differences and similarities between the original and new interpretations. The audience will be provided with possibilities for interaction and participation.

The legacy of Tove Jansson lives on, 20 years after her death

Generations of children around the world have grown up watching the characters of Moominvalley. In Finland, the home country of Tove Jansson, one of the animations has been on TV for nearly 30 consecutive years ever since it first aired in early 1990s.

Moomintroll, Snufkin and Little My running in a forest. Still from the animation series Moomin (1990).
MOOMIN (1990) © Moomin Characters™ / Animation © Dennis Livson and Kindernet Entertainment Ltd

“Tove Jansson is a Finnish icon. Her works, of which the Moomin books are best known, are beloved by many Finns and international audiences alike. The Moomins are gaining more and more attention also here in the U.S.,” notes Mikko Hautala, the Ambassador of Finland to the United States.

Jansson, one of the best-known Finnish artists, made a name for herself internationally as an author, illustrator, painter, cartoonist, and a comic strip artist. Her most famous legacy, however, is being the creator of the Moomins. After the first Moomin story published in 1945, Tove Jansson went on to write another eight books, four picture books and numerous comic strip stories about the Moomins. The friendliness, equality, and adventures of the Moomins continue to inspire new generations.

Whether or not you grew up with Moomins, in this exhibition you can simply let the stories carry you away – stories, which fascinate people of all ages. Moomin Animations – Thrills and Cuddles is based on a 2019 exhibition produced by the Moomin Museum in Finland. The exhibition shown at National Children’s Museum this fall is co-produced by the Moomin Museum(Link to another website.), the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C., National Children’s Museum(Link to another website.), Gutsy Animations Ltd(Link to another website.) and Moomin Characters Ltd(Link to another website.).

The exhibition is supported by Finarte(Link to another website.) and Lovi Ltd(Link to another website.).

Moomin Animations – Thrills and Cuddles
September 3, 2021–January 9, 2022
National Children’s Museum(Link to another website.), Washington, D.C.

Museum Location: 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Hours: Open Thursday–Sunday
Morning session: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Afternoon session: 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

While the Museum welcomes Moomin fans of all ages, adults (age 18+) and teens (13-17) are to be accompanied by a child (age 0-12) to enter the Museum. To visit Moomin Animations - Thrills + Cuddles without a child (age 0-12), please email the Museum to inquire about reserving adult-and-teen-only tickets during special times.

Special programming

Who is Moomintroll? (September 25, 10:30 am)

In books and comics written by Tove Jansson, and in many animations, plays, and even ballets based on them, the brisk and curious Moomintroll and his friends go on great adventures. How and why did Tove invent the character, and how did Moomintroll become the way we know him? Join Minna Honkasalo, who works at the world’s only Moomin Museum, as she tells the story of how Moomintroll was born via livestream from the Moomin Museum in Finland.

Sign up for the virtual event here(Link to another website.)

Meet & Greet with Moomintroll (October 10, 17 and 24)

On special dates during the Kids Euro Festival, you get a unique chance to meet Moomintroll. Visitors can strike a pose with him, so get your cameras ready! The beloved fairytale creature Moomintroll is one of the central figures of the Moomin stories created by Finnish author Tove Jansson. The Moomin family and their friends live an adventurous life in the idyllic and peaceful Moominvalley. 

The dates and times for a Meet & Greet with Moomintroll are: 

Sunday, October 10, at 10.30 am, 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, and 3.30 pm
Sunday, October 17, at 10.30 am, 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, and 3.30 pm
Sunday, October 24, at 10.30 am, 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, and 3.30 pm

The length of each meet & greet will be around 20 minutes. For more information about how to enjoy the Moomin animations during the Kids Euro Festival, please visit the Festival website(Link to another website.).

The Animation Behind Moominvalley (October 16, 10:30 am)

Join Moominvalley director, Jay Grace, to hear all about how the award-winning Moominvalley TV series (2019) came to life! You will experience Moominvalley’s creative process behind-the-scenes. You start by following the path of production with a script excerpt through various stages from character sketches to 3D props. You’ll conclude the journey with a glimpse of what the final Moominvalley animation feels and looks like! See how the stories transformed from text to a gorgeous animation and learn a few tricks on how to draw a Moomin by yourself. Sign up for the virtual event here(Link to another website.).

Jay Grace is an award-winning Director and Animator with over 25 years’ experience in the animation industry. He's known predominantly for his work with the Oscar®-winning animation studio Aardman. His notable credits include films Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and over 20 episodes of the highly successful TV series Shaun the Sheep, which earned him a BAFTA in 2014.

The Music of Moominvalley (November 20, 10:30 am)

Join composers Samuli Kosminen and Jarmo Saari on livestream for a musical ride to the fantasy world of Moomins! Hear more about how the heart-warming score music of the award-winning Moominvalley TV series (Gutsy Animations, 2019) was made. Find out the most bizarre instruments used to create the perfect sound. Use your ears to “watch” scenes, discover the sounds different instruments make, and learn more about the basics of composing! Sign up here(Link to another website.) for the virtual event.

Samuli Kosminen is one of Finland’s top drummers/percussionists, a composer and a producer. He has been featured on over 80 albums and has written music for several theatre pieces and films. Jarmo Saari has been featured on more than 100 albums as a musician, producer, arranger or composer. The discography covers genres of film scores, contemporary dance scores, big band, choir, chamber, orchestra, and theatre music.

Christmas with the Moomins (December 11, 10:30 am)

The Moomins sleep during winter – and so, they don’t know what Christmas is. However, in Tove Jansson’s short story The Fir Tree, the Moomin family is awakened from their winter sleep to encounter Christmas for the first time. They are taken aback by all the fuss they encounter when everybody is rushing to prepare for the big day. And yet, in typical Moomin fashion, they stumble on the true meaning of this festival. If you pay attention, you might learn something very important through this story.

Sit down, get cosy, and listen to a live-reading, followed by discussion, of this wonderful Christmas story. Then learn more about holiday traditions in Finland. If you would like to participate in the online event, sign up here (Link to another website.)in advance.

Inquiries about the exhibition:

Suvi Järvelä-Hagström, Head of Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C.

Minna Honkasalo, Producer, Moomin Museum