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Besides its standings in the winter Olympic games, Finland’s most famous export might be Tove Jansson’s Moomins. A cherished national icon and internationally renown author and illustrator, Jansson has brought to the world of children’s book a brimming collection of the enchanting, snout-nosed Moomintrolls who offer a vision of the Nordic good which shows kindness to all creatures.
image via korpi.artstation.com
However, trouble has recently muddied the enchantment. The company that owns the rights to Jansson’s work, appropriately named Moomin Characters, has joined a proposal to turn a beloved Helsinki landmark into a commercial venue; one of its promised attractions being a Tove Jansson museum. Critics now ask, have the Moomins sold out?
As much as Jansson’s Moominworld has always taught values of quality, empathy, and peaceful, harmonious living with nature, it must also be remembered that her created body of work has amassed an annual retail revenue of 750 million euros (that $850 million on this side of the pond). Her reach stretches farther than the pages she writes; you can find Moomin paraphernalia like mugs, tee-shirts, and even underwear. A Moomin-lover myself, I can’t say I’m too psyched to hear about that last one.
image via moomin.fandom.com
The real-estate in question is Lapinlahti, a center for mental-wellbeing, art studios, art-health organizations and charities. It holds multiple cultural events a year, including concerts, exhibitions, movie-screenings and art classes. The Helsinki City Council, as part of the new proposal with Moomin Characters, wants to bring restaurants, stores, and even a hotel to the beloved Lapinlahti. Critics of the plan lampoon the redevelopment for seeking to destroy a community of social and artistic engagement.
image via tickettoadventures.om
The city’s aims are to offload nonessential city property. Philosopher and elected representative of the Helsinki City Council Thomas Wallgren said that the proposal was a move towards “a policy of privatizing assets.” However, its aims––which seem in almost every way to deny the community of its arts––are against those which Jansson so profoundly teaches in her Moomin series. Sadly, the world we live in today is far from that of the harmonious Moomins; perhaps we ought to learn thing or two from them.