Who hasn’t sung along with Sesame Street or had a memory of Fraggle Rock or The Muppet Show dancing around in their head? If you don’t know Jim Henson, the man, you certainly know his work. From his iconic characters like Miss Piggie and Bert and Ernie, to his classic ’80’s flicks like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, Henson’s creations have entertained and educated us since he started his career in the mid-1960s. And now, you can cast your cares away and enter into the world of this pioneering puppeteer and innovator at the world premier of The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited.
photo: The Jim Henson Company
Tucked up in a corner of Seattle’s MoPOP building, The Jim Henson Exhibition explores Henson’s groundbreaking work in television and puppetry and his legendary contributions to popular culture. As you meander through the collection of original sketches and other artifacts donated by the Henson family, you will get to see the creative process behind the development of characters and productions. Television screens line the walls, playing old footage of early shows. And (maybe the best part) you can come face to face with life-long friends like Kermit the Frog and The Count as you’re serenaded by familiar tunes that are likely part of the soundtrack of your youth.
photo: Kelly Doscher
Interactive stations throughout the exhibit will give you and your kiddos hands-on puppet experiences. Record a TV show, build your own “Anything Muppet” or put on a puppet show for a live audience!
What’s an Anything Muppet? On Sesame Street, there are a lot of regulars—Elmo, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch—but they can’t be in every skit. That’s why the puppet designers at The Jim Henson Company came up with basic, featureless puppets that had interchangeable facial features, hair, and clothing. Remember the man with the fly in his soup? Or how about Guy Smiley? These were “Anything Muppets” or AW’s, as they’re known in the studio. Psst… when you get to the station, be sure to watch the short video that tells you all about the Muppets. Then, when you’re ready, turn on the camera to see how your Muppet looks on screen.
photo: Kelly Doscher
For the kid in all of us, the finale of the exhibit may be the most exciting. This is where you can snap a pic at the life-size replica of The Muppet Show set that appeared in the beginning credits, see Jen and Kira from The Dark Crystal and watch David Bowie’s and Jennifer Connelly’s original costumes dance around as they did in the final scene of Labyrinth. Whether you’re a kid today or just a kid at heart, this is exhibit is one that will bring back fun memories and make new ones that’ll make you smile.
Good to Know
The comprehensive exhibition features numerous artifacts related to Henson’s career, including more than 20 puppets, character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, film and television clips as well as behind-the-scenes footage, iconic costumes and interactive experiences.
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
325 5th Ave. N.
Seattle, Wa 98109
Cost: $35/Adults; $28/MoPOP Members; $16/Kids (5-17); 4 & under Free
Dates: Now through Jan 3, 2018
Times: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
What is your favorite Jim Henson creation or memory? Share it in the Comments below!
— Kelly Doscher