The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) recently announced the opening of The Jim Henson: Unlimited Imagination exhibition, with presentation support from PNC Bank. Organized by the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), the traveling exhibition will open on October 1, 2022 and remain on view until January 14, 2023. The traveling exhibition is a version of MoMI’s current exhibition The Jim Henson Exhibitionwhich can be seen at his home in New York.
The Jim Henson: Unlimited Imagination Exhibition is a dynamic new experience for visitors exploring Jim Henson’s groundbreaking work for film and television and his transformative impact on popular culture. This comprehensive exhibit reveals how Henson and his team of builders, performers and writers brought the ever-popular worlds of The puppet show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The dark crystal, Labyrinth, and much more. It also includes material from Henson’s experimental film projects and early work, showcasing him as a creative performer, filmmaker and technical innovator.
“This extensive retrospective exhibition will be fun and fascinating for all generations,” commented GRAM Director Dana Friis-Hansen. “Unlimited imagination celebrates the breadth of Henson’s creativity through original artifacts – including puppetry, animation, acting, invention and filmmaking – and reunites us with his cast of beloved characters , including Kermit, Bert and Ernie, Miss Piggy and the Cookie Monster.
The exhibit features a wide range of artifacts related to Henson’s unparalleled career, including more than 20 puppets, character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, film and television clips, stills from backstage, iconic costumes and interactive experiences that allow visitors to try their hand at puppetry in front of the camera and design a puppet character.
Unlimited imagination takes visitors on a journey through the creative life of Jim Henson, from when he borrowed two library books about the puppeteer as a high school student in the 1950s to his first successful TV show sam and his friends, and through the characters and stories that have left an indelible mark on popular culture,” added GRAM Associate Curator Jennifer Wcisel. “The show contains an impressive collection of storyboards, concept sketches, and behind-the-scenes footage that offers insight into Henson’s deep imagination and technical innovation in film and television.”
Unlimited imagination begins with a brief overview of Henson’s early life through images of Henson as a young man and reproductions of some of his early drawings and sketches, then follows his steady rise and immense contributions to art and industry moving image. Highlights include a 1978 Kermit the Frog puppet; handwritten scripts of Henson’s first television series, sam and his friends (1955-1961); an excerpt from his Oscar-nominated experimental film piece of time (1965); Jen and Kira puppets The dark crystal (1982); familiar sesame street puppets including Grover, Ernie, Bert and Count von Count; as well as costumes Labyrinth (1986).
The exhibition highlights an exploration of The puppet show (1976-1981) from a concept developed by Henson in the early 1960s to an internationally acclaimed series. This section features iconic puppets that helped define this global brand, including Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker and Scooter, as well as material from the Muppets’ transition to the big screen, with set models and storyboards illustrating how the Muppets sets were designed to accommodate puppets and artists.
The Jim Henson: Unlimited Imagination Exhibition is a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of the Moving Image (Astoria, New York) in cooperation with The Jim Henson Company, The Muppets Studio and Sesame Workshop. The exhibit features puppets and other artifacts donated to the Museum by Jim Henson’s family, as well as works on loan from the Jim Henson Company Archives as well as private lenders.
Support for exhibit presentation is generously provided by PNC Bank. Additional funding is provided by the Wege Foundation, the Meijer Foundation and the GRAM Exhibition Society.
Membership Exhibit Opening: Imagination Unlimited
friday september 30
7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Event for GRAM members
Museum members and their guests are invited to celebrate the opening of Unlimited imagination at the Grand Rapids Museum of Art. Join us for a special preview of the exhibit, complete with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
PNC Family Days
Saturday 15, 22 and 29 October
November 5, 12 and 9
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Included with museum entry*
Join GRAM for fun interactive art experiences for the whole family! In celebration of Unlimited imaginationguests can enjoy an array of hands-on activities inspired by the creativity of Jim Henson, including art making, a puppet show, story time, gallery talks and an interactive game. Puppet show wall. Thanks to the support of PNC Bank, each visitor will receive $2 off the cost of admission to the event. *Admission to Family Day does not include admission to the Unlimited imagination exposure.
About the Grand Rapids Museum of Art
Connecting people through art, creativity and design. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the art museum is internationally recognized for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Founded in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include over 6,000 works of art, including 19th and 20th century American and European paintings and sculptures and over 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s heritage as a premier design and manufacturing hub, GRAM boasts a growing collection of modern design and craftsmanship.
For museum hours and admission fees, call 616.831.1000 or visit artmuseumgr.org.
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