Atlanta Gets World's Largest Display of Jim Henson Artifacts

Expansion of the Center for Puppetry Arts will not only create a home for Ernie and Bert, but also and new museum and an expanded Global Collection featuring puppets from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Photo by: Evening Standard/Getty Images Over time, celebrities from all over the world have appeared alongside Jim Henson's lovable creations. Liberace appeared with Rolf the Dog in April of 1978. 

Over 50 years ago, a visionary named Jim Henson started creating imaginary worlds through puppets, which evolved into Muppets. Born in Mississippi, Henson’s first television appearance was on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1966; two years later he joined the Children’s Television Workshop, which produces Sesame Street and the rest is history. 

Photo by: Hulton Archive/Getty Images American puppeteer and filmmaker Jim Henson (1936 - 1990) with some of the Muppet cast from the children's TV show Fraggle Rock circa 1985.

In 1978, Henson and Kermit the Frog were the guests of honor at the ribbon cutting ceremony that opened Atlanta’s Center for the Puppetry Arts bringing the artistry of puppetry to a whole new audience. After a generous donation from the late Henson’s family, the Center announced Tuesday, January 14, 2014 plans for an expansion and renovation that will include a new museum with a Global Collection and the world’s most comprehensive collection of Jim Henson’s puppets and artifacts. 

“Jim Henson saw puppetry as an art form that engaged people of all ages and all cultures, said Bonnie Erickson, Executive Director of The Jim Henson Legacy. “He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Center, its mission and its position within puppetry’s international community. He was inspired by his world travels just as the world has been influenced by his creativity.”

Today, the CPA is nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated to the art of puppetry. 

Photo courtesy Center for Puppetry Arts In 1978, Kermit the Frog and Jim Henson traveled from Sesame Street to Spring Street in Midtown for the ceremonial ribbon cutting which marked the opening of Center for Puppetry Arts. 

“This is a historic time for the Center for Puppetry Arts,” said Executive Director Vince Anthony. “Since Kermit the Frog and Jim Henson cut the ceremonial ribbon opening our doors in 1978, the Center’s goal has been to create a world-class experience for our guests, where they may learn more about the celebrated art form of puppetry and ultimately become inspired to create their own art.” 

With an anticipated 2015 opening, approximately half of the expanded museum space will be dedicated to the Jim Henson Collection, including our favorite characters from Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal and Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. The events of Henson’s prolific life and career will be traced chronologically through an interactive exhibit that features environments that typified the master puppeteer’s world such as Henson’s office and a television studio.

Henson was inspired through his world travels and saw puppetry as a form of teaching, healing and communicating. The Global Collection, which will occupy the remainder of the museum space, is designed to demonstrate just that. Arranged by continent, artifacts will be displayed within rich contextual backdrops alongside additional materials to help showcase varying artistic and cultural styles. There will also be a new library and archival space, a renovated entryway and other upgrades to existing spaces. 

Photo courtesy Muppet Wiki Not only did the Mad Men star appear on Sesame Street, he was also "interviewed" by Miss Piggy at the 2012 BAFTA Awards. 

The announcement seems to have brought out the kid in everyone at the Center as well as those involved. 

"The Center is already planning their 2015 Museum opening celebration and hopes to again be joined by the Henson family, as well as more of his friends and colleagues," said  Daniel Summers, Jr., Marketing Director for Center for Puppetry Arts."However, it is still a bit too soon to speculate on who can attend as no date has yet to be determined."

Throughout the years, A-list celebrities have appeared alongside Henson’s creations, including Steve Martin, Milton Berle, Seth RoganElvis CostelloMark RuffaloBen StillerJohnny CashBob Hope, Elliott Gould, Mel Brooks, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Jack Black, Orson Welles, Madeline Kahn, Richard Pryor, Dave Matthews, R.E.M., Carol Burnett, Sandra Bullock, Jason Segal, Jon Hamm, Mila Kunis, Dave Grohl, Lady Gaga and John Mayer – only to name a few. 

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