In 1978, Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog cut the ribbon during the opening of the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. Almost four decades later, the center has opened a permanent exhibit honoring Henson's contributions to puppeteering and storytelling. And we went so you could see it, too, with a little help from the video above.
The Jim Henson Collection is laid out chronologically in the new Worlds of Puppetry Museum. You get to explore Henson's work from the early days of "Sam and Friends" up through "Sesame Street," "The Muppet Show" and beyond.
Henson's children donated the 500 pieces that are in the museum's collection — though not all are on display. Not having everything on display is by design. The museum plans to rotate pieces through the collection so that it will change over time, meaning you'll see something different on future visits. And if you love Henson's creations as much as we do, you may find your breath catching more than once as you round a corner and see a beloved character. As Gonzo would say, these are old friends you've just met.
While the Jim Henson Collection is impressive and it's a thrill to see characters like Bert and Ernie, Big Bird, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and Kermit, that's not the only thing the Center for Puppetry Arts has to offer. Puppets from around the world inhabit the center's global exhibit, which explains how powerful a storytelling art puppetry can be.
The center is also a theater, with productions ranging from children's shows to stories meant for an adult audience. It also hosts events like the Xperimental Puppetry Theater (XPT), in which artists can submit ideas for original works that incorporate puppetry in some way. Winning submissions receive a production budget and all the finished pieces are performed in front of an audience.
Henson himself believed strongly that puppets weren't just for entertaining children. It's clear when you walk through the Center for Puppetry Arts that this philosophy is still alive and well today.