Not the first place you would think about trekking off to with 3 kids but believe me, Utrecht is worth it. A beautiful place that is only 20 minutes from Amsterdam. We were there to visit the Miffy Museum, a museum wholly dedicated to a little white bunny, called Nijntje in Dutch or Miffy in English.
So how can you build a museum from characters in children’s storybooks? Well, quite easily if you are the creative genius that is Dick Bruna. Whilst on a rainy seaside holiday in 1955, Dick Bruna entertained his young son by drawing pictures of a rabbit that kept hopping about the garden of their holiday home. The character Miffy was born. Over 60 years later, those distinctive long white ears and simple face, with just two dots for eyes and a cross for a mouth, are known and loved throughout the world.
The term museum is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more like an upgraded or more charming and pleasant “soft play” that are popular in the UK. Whilst the parents can read about the formation of the characters and the development of the Miffy brand, the children are captivated by the cleverly thought out and brilliantly executed activities. Admittedly, I was apprehensive at first but the activities are so engaging and creative that we hardly saw or heard the kids all the time we were there.
Our timing was a bit of a fluke. Having opened in February 2016, this was the first winter for the museum. There was a special seasonal installation where the kids could strap on skis, take a ride on a sleigh, build a snowman puzzle, or decorate a Christmas angel. Delilah and Jonah spent a long time reorganising the nativity scene and playing with the winter characters.
You will also be pleased to know that, even though it is a museum, you do not exit by the gift shop. This avoids the argument over having to purchase Miffy book or soft toys. However, across the road, there is a gift shop within the Centraal Museum. So, we popped over and, within the lovely books and toys the kids found their souvenir Miffy to take home.
Aged 87, Dick Bruna has written and illustrated over 120 picture books for children, 32 of which are about Miffy. He lives in the city of Utrecht in The Netherlands.