Saturday, August 30, 2008
Jim Henson's Fantastic World
On Wednesday, my sister and I took my niece down to Washington, D.C. to the Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibit at the Smithsonian's International Gallery. Having grown up watching Jim Henson TV shows such as The Muppet Show and Seseme Street, and enjoying Henson movies such as The Dark Crystal, The Muppet Movie, and Labrinth, the opportunity to see an exhibit of Henson's work excited me.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the exhibit. I was disappointed by this, but respected their wishes and didn't try to sneak any shots with my iPhone (my DSLR would have been less than conspicuous). That said, I have found a few photos on Flickr that show a few of the displays. You can also listen to the official podcast (very informative) which is meant to be listened to as you walk through the exhibit.
As you enter the exhibit, you are immediately greeted by Kermit the Frog sitting on a log inside a display case. It is really interesting to look at these puppets (err Muppets) up close and being able to walk around the display case 360 degrees to view all sides. The only area that you can't see is the area where the hand is inserted. I never realized this, but the blacks of the eyes are made of a fabric (probably felt). I had always assumed that they were painted on.
Other Muppets on display include Rowlf the Dog, Bert and Ernie, Wilkins and Wontkins, King Goshposh and Featherstone, and Mahna Mahna and The Snowths (I may be missing a couple others). I don't know anyone who doesn't know or has never heard the Mahna Mahna song. It's a classic!
Other displays included props and clothing worn by the puppets in The Dark Crystal. There were also wall displays with original drawings and storyboards, as well as a wealth of information and behind-the-scenes photos. One photo showed Jim controlling a Muppet outside that was as taller than the building. They also had several videos on display.
My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and everything kept the attention of my 16 month old niece.
October 5, 2008 is the final day of the exhibit at the Smithsonian. I highly recommend checking it out if you are in the D.C. area! I may even go back a second time before it's gone. The exhibit will be traveling to several other cities around the U.S., so check out the tour schedule to see if it is coming to a city near you.