NYC with Kids: Jim Henson’s Fantastic World at MOMI

Jim HensonJim Henson, the internationally known creative figure whose work encompassed film, television, and puppetry, made elaborate imaginary worlds filled with unique characters, objects, and environments. A major exhibition devoted to his work, Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, will open at Museum of the Moving Image on Saturday, July 16, 2011 and continue through Monday, January 16, 2012. For itsNew York run, the Smithsonian traveling exhibition will be enhanced by an array of programs, talks, and performances, including special screenings, personal appearances by members of Henson’s family and his close collaborators, and education programs for visitors of all ages.

The exhibition features more than 120 artifacts, including drawings, storyboards, and props, and video material that illustrate Henson’s boundless creativity and innumerable accomplishments. A special addition to the exhibition at Museum of the Moving Image is a puppet of Miss Piggy from The Muppets Take Manhattan. Among other highlights are fourteen additional iconic original puppets of such characters as Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, Bert, and Ernie; photographs of Henson and his collaborators at work; and excerpts from Henson’s early projects and experimental films. The exhibition spans Henson’s entire career, beginning with drawings, cartoons, and posters produced during his college years in the late 1950s and concluding with objects related to the inspired imaginary worlds of his popular fantasy film The Dark Crystal (1982). Visitors will encounter materials from Henson’s best-known projects, The Muppet ShowThe Muppet Movie and its sequels, and Fraggle Rock, as well as objects related to his Sesame Street characters. Visitors will also learn about Sam and Friends, an early show Henson created in the 1950s, Henson’s television commercial work in the 1960s, and the segments Henson made for The Ed Sullivan Show.

The Museum has worked in close collaboration with The Jim Henson Legacy and The Jim Henson Company to organize screenings, educational programs, and special events to commemorate Henson’s 75th birthday on September 24 as well as other milestones during the period the exhibition is on view. These include screenings of Time Piece (1965), Jim Henson’s Academy Award-nominated experimental short, in the Museum’s Video Screening Amphitheater; a rare conversation with Jane Henson, co-founder of The Muppets and wife of the late Jim Henson, on September 18; a preview screening of the Sundance hit documentary Being Elmo with its subject, puppeteer and performer Kevin Clash and director Constance Marks in person on September 25; exclusive showings of compilation programs featuring hundreds of highlights and special moments from the history of the Muppets; screenings of The Muppet Movie and its sequels, The Dark Crystal, and other films, many accompanied by appearances by actors, puppeteers, designers and other close Henson collaborators.  An updated schedule through the end of September is available here.

Additional events will include an anniversary screening of a newly restored 35mm print of Labyrinth with special guests, a presentation by Jim Henson’s son Brian Henson, and other screenings and conversations in October through the end of the exhibition run in January.

Educational programs will include 30-minute guided tours of the exhibition (every Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.) and family workshops.

Jim Henson’s Fantastic World is organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), in cooperation with the Henson Family; The Jim Henson Company; The Muppets Studio, LLC; and Sesame Workshop. The exhibition is made possible by the BIO channel. Additional support has been provided by The Jane Henson Foundation and Cheryl Henson. Support for the exhibition at Museum of the Moving Image is provided by Five Napkin Burger, The Astor Room, and Schmutter, Strull, Fleisch Inc.

The Jim Henson Legacy is a non-profit 501(C3) organization that is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Jim Henson’s contributions to the worlds of puppetry, television and motion pictures, special effects and media technology. More information at www.jimhensonlegacy.org.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history. More information atwww.sites.si.edu.

Museum of the Moving Image is the only institution in the United States that explores the art, industry, and innovation of screen culture in all its forms. Embracing topics that range from nineteenth-century optical toys to the latest Internet developments, it provides insight into every phase of the production, promotion and exhibition of moving images. Engaging an international audience of all ages, Museum of the Moving Image offers a distinctive, highly interactive core exhibition; contemporary and retrospective programs of films from around the world; public discussions with leading figures in film and television; a unique collection; inspiring education programs; stimulating changing exhibitions; and groundbreaking online projects. A major renovation and expansion completed in January 2011 doubled the size of the Museum and added two new theaters, an education center, and new galleries. More information at movingimage.us

Disclosure: I was not compensated to provide this information.

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  1. This sounds AMAZING. I worked in TV for 17 years and was on all kinds of sets. But the biggest thrill of my professional life was being on the actual Sesame Street. Jim Henson was a genius!

  2. Wow I love the muppets. The Swedish cook was always my favorite. Meeda moo!

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