Friday, 13 January 2017

FIVE STAR REVIEW Adventures in Moominland at Southbank Centre

Five stars

There is something truly magical about the Southbank Centre’s latest immersive exhibition. Adventures in Moominland takes visitors on a relaxing, calm and wonderful journey through forests, woodland, lakes and mountains to explore and find out more about the world of Tove Jansson’s famous creation, Family Moomintroll.
It starts by visitors entering through a giant page in a book, a doorway that takes you into what feels like an underground cave. This cave leads to another room or area which leads on to another scene, and so on.
In small groups you go through each area with a guide who is on hand to answer questions, as well as listening to an audio narrative by Sandi Toksvig and written by children’s author Laura Dockrill.
Sandi’s voice is particularly soothing though you can hear the cheekiness and humour come through as she describes the places you visit, some of the artefacts and the tales themselves.
Each room or scene you go into is different and they focus on different aspects of the Moomins, these rather curious looking creatures, and of Tove herself, but all feature original drawings, paints, books and other artefacts from Tove’s studio in Helsinki and her family island of Klovharu.
More than half of the objects in the exhibition are being shown in the UK for the first time including some of the very earliest Moomintroll dolls, Tove’s painting palette and flower headdress.
There are also sketches and magazine articles as well as furniture from her studio. The drawings are particularly beautiful.
Throughout the tour, you get to know the Moomins, how they were created and began life, first as a character to be feared but then as a character that inspires peace and understanding. It’s also a chance to find out more about Tove’s inspiration for these delightful characters, and their development through her stories. 
But there is also a chance to find out more about Tove herself, what inspired her, the relationship she had with family, friends and lovers not to mention the social, economic, political and cultural backdrop of the time which defined the narrative of the stories.
The stories were written during the Second World War and Moominvalley offered a refuge from the hardship and terror of what was happening in the world at that time. 
The exhibition is interactive and immersive and has been richly observed and lovingly created. It is utterly delightful and entertaining as well as educational and there is so much to enjoy and explore during the hour long tour. It also doesn’t feel rushed so there is plenty of time in each setting to explore and get to know the Moomins better.
And it doesn’t matter if you are a Moomin fan or have never met them before, this exhibition is designed for everyone - and will delight anyone, young or old - and comes highly recommended.

Adventures in Moominland is on at Southbank Centre until April 23. It is part of Nordic Matters, a year long exploration of Nordic art and culture at Southbank Centre. Tickets from £12. Visit for full listings.

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