Who Is Miffy and Why Is She Getting a Museum?

Move over Hello Kitty, here comes Miffy.

Dick Bruna, Miffy. Photo: Dick Bruna.

Utrecht is getting a new museum dedicated to Miffy, the wildly-popular bunny who stars in Dick Bruna‘s series of children’s books.

Bruna created the character as a story for his one-year-old son during a family vacation in 1955. Miffy’s simple adventures, which involve everything from flying in airplanes and visiting an art gallery to dreaming and playing in the snow, have since become the basis for no less than 124 picture books aimed at young children.

Dick Bruna, Miffy at the Gallery. Photo: Dick Bruna.

Dick Bruna, Miffy at the Gallery.
Photo: Dick Bruna.

Occasionally, Miffy even hits the auction block, with a 1963 Bruna lithograph of the bunny snow showing selling for £2,500 ($3,962) at Christie’s South Kensington in 2013. According to the artnet Price Database, the artist’s non-Miffy auction record is €6,500 ($10,749) set at Christie’s Amsterdam in 2009 for a collage work titled Train.

Dick Bruna, <em>Miffy, Pampers</em>. Photo: via the artnet Price Database.

Dick Bruna, Miffy, Pampers.
Photo: via the artnet Price Database.

The Miffy books have sold over 85 million copies, and have been translated into more than 50 languages. Bruna’s economy of design has been compared to Japanese cartoons, particularly Hello Kitty, a character Sanrio created in 1974.

In an 2008 interview with the Telegraph, Bruna said that the popular Japanese cartoon “is a copy [of Miffy], I think. I don’t like that at all.” Two years later, he sued Sanrio over Hello Kitty’s bunny friend Cathy. A 2011 settlement saw Sanrio agree to halt the production of Cathy merchandise.

Sanrio's Cathy and Dick Bruna's Miffy. Photo: courtesy Sanrio and Dick Bruna.

Sanrio’s Cathy and Dick Bruna’s Miffy.
Photo: courtesy Sanrio and Dick Bruna.

Though Hello Kitty may have eclipsed Miffy in terms of international fame, the bunny’s 60th birthday, celebrated this past summer, saw no less than 45 contemporary artists create statues of the beloved children’s character, prompting the Independent to proclaim Miffy “a Modernist masterpiece.”

Other popular children’s characters that have inspired museums include Snoopy and the creations of Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle, while Hello Kitty enjoyed a 2014 retrospective.

Dick Bruna, <em>Miffy the Artist</em>. Photo: Dick Bruna.

Dick Bruna, Miffy the Artist.
Photo: Dick Bruna.

The new Miffy Museum, which opens February 6, will be an interactive space for children, allowing them to explore the rooms of Miffy’s house, baking a cake or helping put Miffy to bed.

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