BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
A $40,000 fundraising goal to install a permanent exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) dedicated to the work of legendary puppeteer and director Jim Henson has been met. And the exhibition is less than $20,000 away from a $100,000 goal that would allow the Astoria museum to preserve the exhibition’s existing puppets and create new ones based on Henson’s designs and sketches.
With a May 11 deadline looming, the total amount of money raised for the exhibition is $92,835. If the $100,000 goal is met in time, the exhibition could be up in time for the 2017-’18 school year.
“Jim Henson’s playful, endearing, gently subversive personality could be felt in all of the film and television work he created,” a spokeswoman for the museum said. “The Jim Henson exhibition will be a dynamic new visitor experience exploring Henson’s transformative impact on popular culture. The exhibition will explore how Henson achieved this remarkable success by working with a team of dedicated puppet builders, designers, performers and writers who shared his restless curiosity, spirit of experimentation and commitment to creative collaboration.”
Over the course of his career from the 1960s through the 1980s, Henson created stories and characters for television and film that delighted and inspired generations of fans around the world. He died in 1990.
The exhibition will feature more than 40 original puppets from “Sesame Street” and the Muppets—including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Elmo and Cookie Monster—as well as puppet prototypes, original character sketches, behind-the-scenes footage and photographs, interactive puppetry design and performance experiences. The exhibition will be divided into sections, including one that focuses on Henson’s early work, another for “Sesame Street,” one dedicated to “The Muppet Show,” and the numerous Muppet feature films and the worlds of the TV show “Fraggle Rock” and fantasy feature films “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth.”
The city has funded the gallery space that would house the exhibition, which is already complete, and plans for the exhibition have been finalized.
MOMI’S Henson Collection will include a total of 174 historic puppets. The restoration of the collection will involve collaboration between the museum and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
“While Jim Henson may be best known as the inventor of the Muppets and so many other memorable characters, our exhibition takes a more holistic view of his contributions as a producer, director, innovator and creative leader who worked with an impressive team of collaborators,” said museum Executive Director Carl Goodman. “In that spirit, we are honored to be working with the designers and builders at the legendary Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to restore and preserve the puppets for future generations. And we are excited to be partnering with Kickstarter on reaching our goal of presenting the new permanent Jim Henson exhibition.”
In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum will continue to explore Henson’s career and legacy through monthly education programs, live appearances, family workshops and film screenings.
MOMI will also launch a traveling version of the exhibition titled “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited,” which is expected to begin its tour around the world on May 20 at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture.