The image of the girl sliding down the roof in stripey stockings and ginger braids will forever belong to Pippi Longstocking. But for children visiting the Junibacken Museum in Stockholm, the saccharin world of Astrid Lingdren’s much-loved character can become theirs for the day.
After winning Eurovision, Sweden was the feature of our weekly Behind The Headlines post last week. Here is yet another great thing we’ve come across happening in a country that seems to be having by far the most fun in Europe.
Junibacken is a museum devoted not only to Astrid Lindgren’s literature but also (at the author’s insistence) to other Scandinavian children’s authors and their work. With both daughters and dads donning novelty ginger wigs, however, it’s clear who the star of the show is.
Junibacken is not your ordinary follow-a-tour-guide-and- bring-a-bottle-of water-museum either, but tries in every way to evoke the magical immersive experience of leaping into the very pages of a storybook. The trip begins at Storybook Square where you can check whether your favourite characters are home. After you’ve tried on some of their hats you can learn about the authors and artists that created them in the Junibacken Gallery. Next is Storybook Train which ferries visitors across miniature storybook landscapes above twinkling rooftops, finally ending at Pippi’s cottage, Villa Villekulla. Here the entrances are too small for adults, leaving children to gleefully clamber through their heroine’s home.
Like Peter Pan, Pippi is one of those timeless characters we all grew up with, while both refused to do the same. Maybe that’s why we love her so. Or maybe it’s because she’s not afraid to talk back to adults or one-handedly lift her horse over her head. Pippi may remain forever young, but even after nearly 70 years in the biz the brazen red head is still pulling in over 400,000 visitors a year at Junibacken. Officially opened by the Swedish Royal Family in 1996 it is still one of Stockholm’s most-visited attractions. When sliding down roofs and being mates with a monkey become old, maybe Pippi will too, but until then The Junibacken is just another reason we want to go to Sweden.
By Zara Miller