The Center for Puppetry Arts: The Henson Exhibit

Living an hour and a half’s drive from Atlanta, GA gives my husband and me easy access to a number of geeky things we love. One of these is the Center for Puppetry Arts, with its special and extensive exhibit of the work of Jim Henson, complete with videos and original Muppets on display.

Center for Puppetry Entranceway

The first room of the Henson Exhibit is devoted to his earliest work, not only his local-channel hit Sam and Friends and appearances of Rowlf the Dog on The Jimmy Dean Show, but a score of darkly amusing commercials for such products as Wilkins Coffee and La Choy Chow Mein. Visitors can stop in front of a TV airing the commercials and watch for as long as they like. Imagine: commercials worth watching.

It’s in the second room, the Sesame Street room, that video watching truly becomes addictive, since visitors can sit in super-comfortable beanbags and re-live childhood joys. Here we find on display such luminaries as iconic buddy pair Bert and Ernie, and Big Bird, the good-hearted youngster who thinks the alphabet is the most remarkable word he’s ever seen. My husband stands at Big Bird’s side.

Center for Puppetry Bert and Ernie

Center for Puppetry Matt and Big Bird

I mentioned in my previous post that my favorite record growing up was the Muppet Frog Prince. When I saw the villainous witch Taminella (brilliantly performed by Frank Oz) on display, I couldn’t resist having my picture taken with her.

Center for Puppetry Taminella

There are plenty of good reasons to watch Fraggle Rock, but I watch it for Red and Mokey, one of my favorite female buddy pairs to this day. Mokey is a dreamy artist and poet with a hippie streak, Red is a hyper-energetic and hyper-competitive athlete, and the two stick together through thick and thin and share many an adventure. Three years ago we had the privilege of seeing their performers, Kathryn Mullen and Karen Prell, when they visited DragonCon. At first they answered audience questions as themselves, but halfway through the panel they brought out their Muppets, and the two characters came to life before our eyes. We were no longer looking at Mullen and Prell. We were looking at, and talking to, Mokey and Red.

Center for Puppetry Red and Mokey

Of course I had to purchase my own Red puppet from the souvenir shop. I adore her pigtails. Don’t judge me.

Center for Puppetry Red Puppet

In honor of the Center’s screening of Henson’s 1986 coming-of-age film Labyrinth, visitors got a chance to sit in the Goblin King’s throne. Here I take my turn.

Center for Puppetry Jareth Throne

If your travels take you near Atlanta, be sure not to miss the Center for Puppetry Arts. Even if you’re not a Jim Henson fan when you go into the special exhibit, the chances are good you will be one when you come out.



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