Japan to host largest-ever touring exhibition of Moomin art by Tove Jansson

The largest-ever touring exhibition of Moomin art by Finnish writer and artist Tove Jansson (1914–2001) will embark on a tour of Japan in April 2019. The two-year tour will take in ten museums and other venues around Japan. The exhibition is among the top events in a special line-up celebrating the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Finland and Japan in 2019.

Moomin: the Art and the Story will debut at Tokyo’s Mori Arts Center Gallery on April 9, 2019. After Tokyo, it will continue its tour of Japanese cities including Oita, Kanazawa and Nagoya, continuing until March 2021. The exhibition will feature over 600 of Tove Jansson’s original illustrations, drawings and paintings as well as a wealth of other Moomin-themed artefacts and archive material. Most of the works featured in the exhibition have never been seen in Japan previously.

The majority of the exhibits are loans from the Moomin Museum (administered by Tampere Art Museum) and Moomin Characters Ltd. In addition to original works of Jansson, the Moomin Museum’s loan includes a selection of rare artefacts and sketches from Tove Jansson and Tuulikki Pietilä’s Paraphernalia collection, which has never been displayed outside the Moomin Museum.  Various other private institutions, archives and museums have lent Moomin-themed material for the tour, including the earliest Moomin products dating from the 1950s, collector rarities, documentary films and photographic material. The exhibition provides a broad overview of Jansson’s Moomin art all the way from the 1940s to the end of her life.

The touring exhibition is produced by Japan’s leading newspaper publisher, Asahi Shimbun. It will be scripted and curated as a Japanese-Finnish collaboration between the Tampere Art Museum /Moomin Museum and Asahi Shimbun Cultural Projects. The Moomin Museum has produced a number of Japanese tours of Jansson’s art since the 1990s. This, however, marks the first occasion that the museum is directly involved in planning and executing the exhibition concept, script and content.

Thanks to previous Moomin exhibitions, books and widely broadcast animations, the Moomins are famous in Japan. A large number of Japanese visitors come to Tampere especially to see Jansson’s original illustrations at Finland’s Moomin Museum, states Museum Director Taina Myllyharju: “Japan has accounted for the largest number of foreign visitors at our museum for decades. Today roughly 30 per cent of our visitors come from abroad. With their warm, humane philosophy of life, the Moomins are excellent ambassadors of Finnish culture all around the world.”