EXHIBITIONS / PAST EXHIBITIONS
Jim Henson's Fantastic World

May 23-August 16, 2009

Jim Henson (1936-1990)—artist, puppeteer, film director and producer—created elaborate imaginary worlds filled with unique characters, objects, environments and even languages and cultures. His work is enjoyed in dozens of languages in more than 100 countries. Jim Henson's Fantastic World offers a rare peek into the imagination and creative genius of this multitalented innovator and creator of Kermit the Frog, Big Bird and other beloved characters.

The exhibition features 100 original artworks, including drawings, cartoons and storyboards that illustrate Henson's talent as a storyteller and visionary. Among the variety of exhibition objects are puppets and television and movie props, photographs of Henson and his collaborators at work and original video productions, including excerpts from Henson's early career and experimental films.

EMP|SFM will supplement the exhibition with a hands-on puppet theater starring Seattle's newest band, Mudgarden Experience. The theater will allow visitors to experience what it's like to perform puppets for an audience and view themselves on monitors—much like how it might have been for Jim Henson while he was filming "Sesame Street" or "The Muppet Show." The audience will be able to watch the puppet show from an area reminiscent of the famous stoop on "Sesame Street."

The rock star puppets are inspired by Seattle musicians, and visitors will be able to perform the puppets singing the following songs in the hands-on puppet theater:

"Rainbow Connection," Kenny Asher and Paul Williams, performed by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

"Can You Picture That?," Kenny Asher and Paul Williams, performed by Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem

"Moving Right Along," Kenny Asher and Paul Williams, performed by Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear

"It's Not Easy Bein' Green," Joe Raposo, performed by Van Morrison

"Tenderly," Walter Gross and Jack Lawrence, performed by Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem

"Mahna Mahna," Piero Umiliani, performed by Cake

Jim Henson's Fantastic World was organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in cooperation with the Henson family, The Jim Henson Company, The Muppets Studio, LLC, and Sesame Workshop.

This exhibition is made possible by The Biography Channel. Additional support has been provided by The Jane Henson Foundation and Cheryl Henson.
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Main image: Detail of Henson and Kermit. Photo courtesy of The Jim Henson Company. Kermit the Frog © The Muppets Studio, LLC.