From Tove’s bookshelf
21.5.2022 – 12.3.2023

We know the Moomin books, but what did their writer read? This exhibition visits the bookshelves of the artist-writer Tove Jansson (1914–2001) and wonders what a private library says about its owner.

Alongside her illustration collection, Tove Jansson donated hundreds of Moomin books to the Tampere Art Museum, including several different language editions. In 1989, Jansson gifted 410 children’s books, research books on literature and illustration to the Children’s Book Institute. This donation also included adventure books belonging to Jansson’s partner, the artist Tuulikki Pietilä (1917–2009).

Jansson read widely. This exhibition picks illustration art, storytelling from different cultures, and children’s book classics from her bookshelves. Myths from folk stories and strange fairytale creatures are woven into fascinating illustrated worlds. Books were important domestic objects, with personal dedications and various ex libris, or bookplates. Among the bookshelves, you can hear echoes from Moominvalley.

A century of book art can be traced in this collection. Developments in printing techniques offered illustrators new forms of expression, and Tove Jansson was a creative pioneer in the field. She created her books as entire works of art as the writer, illustrator and designer.

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Finnish Children’s Book Institute. Operating in Tampere since 1978, it is the expert organisation and the only specialised library for Finnish children’s and youth literature.