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A Dollhouse Based on a Comic Strip: the Moomin Dollhouse

In Sweden, the Moomins are popular cartoon and story characters that look like trolls with long snouts with a resemblance to a hippopotamus and who live deep in the forests of Finland. The Moomins are the creation of author Tove Jansson, who wrote a variety of picture books about the life of these forest characters. The popularity of the characters has led to different television shows, movies, and even a theme park. In addition, the characters interested the Finnish graphic artist and educator, Tuulikki Pietila, who created a series of shadow boxes forming a dollhouse for a family of Moomins.

Tuulikki Pietila, born in 1917, was actually born in the United States, in Seattle, Washington. She was famous for her work in graphic arts and her books on the subject. She trained at the Turku drawing school, and the University College of Arts, Crafts, Design in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Fernand Leger Academy in Paris. Her most well known work of art is her famous dollhouse the Moomin dollhouse.

The dollhouse created by Pietila, now resides in the Moomin Museum on the lower floor of the Tampere Art Museum in Finland. The museum contains the dollhouse and 40 miniature shadow boxes, original artwork from Tove Jansson, a timeline of Moomin events, and approximately 2,000 different exhibit items about the family of trolls.

The actual construction of the Moomin dollhouse was a joint effort involving Tove Jansson, Tuulikki Pietila with assistance from Tuulikki’s life partner Pentti Eistola. The dollhouse was originally planned to be round as the Moomin homes were always depicted in the Jansson stories. However, due to the planned exhibition space, the house ended up square. The dollhouse stands five stories high and is bright blue. No blueprints or architectural designs were used in the construction, with the exception of the ground floor which was created by architect Reima Pietila, the creator’s brother. The design of the dollhouse was free flowing and was created floor by floor. In addition to the dollhouse, Pietila created the forty miniature shadow boxes also made for Moomin habitation.

When the dollhouse was complete it was donated to the town of Tampere for public exhibition. The dollhouse did tour for awhile across Scandinavian countries before its permanent installation in the Moomin Museum.

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