Jim Henson’s Fantastic World

Michener Art Museum to host Jim Henson’s Fantastic World in new gallery space
from September 12 until November 29, 2009.

The Jim Henson Company


“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”
– Jim Henson

If Jim Henson’s only intention was to make the world a little better, he well exceeded his goal. Without Henson’s impressive creativity and ingenuity, scores of children and adults would have never met his endearing character conceptions or enjoyed educational programs like “The Muppet Show,” “Fraggle Rock” and “Sam and Friends.” His work has transcended generations, cultures and languages, reaching more than 100 countries. Clearly, Henson left an indelible mark on the world.

Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and The Jim Henson Legacy, offers a rare peek into the imagination and creative genius of this multitalented innovator and creator of Kermit the Frog, Big Bird and other beloved characters. The exhibition will be the first to be featured in the new Syd and Sharon Martin Wing at the James A. Michener Art Museum (138 S. Pine St., Doylestown, PA) on September 12 and remain on view until November 29, 2009.

“We are extremely honored to be hosting Jim Henson’s Fantastic World,” said Bruce Katsiff, Director and CEO of the James A. Michener Art Museum. “Through his lovable characters, films and programs, Henson made an everlasting impact on the imagination of an entire generation, and this show pays homage to that brilliant legacy.”

The exhibition features 100 original artworks, including drawings, cartoons and storyboards that illustrate Henson’s talent as a storyteller and visionary. Among the variety of exhibition objects are puppets, television and movie props, photographs of Henson and his collaborators at work, and original video productions, including excerpts from Henson’s early career and experimental films.

“It’s such a treat to get to know Jim Henson through his doodles and drawings, his puppets and his fantastic performances,” said Karen Falk, curator of the exhibition and archivist at The Jim Henson Company. “I’m delighted to be able to share this inspiring and entertaining experience with people all over the country. Seeing his original work firsthand opens a window into his visual thinking and provides both an appreciation of Jim as an artist and a reason to laugh out loud.”

From the very beginning, Henson expressed his ideas with incredible bursts of invention, through a variety of visual forms, clever dialogue, songs, comic bits and animation. All of his work reveals a highly sophisticated and nuanced thought process, evident in the decades-long metamorphosis of a small group of captivating characters from simple doodles to cartoons to puppets to films. What began as a one-man enterprise eventually grew into an international phenomenon.

Jim Henson’s Fantastic World is organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and SITES, in cooperation with the Henson Family; The Jim Henson Company; The Muppets Studio, LLC; and Sesame Workshop. The exhibition is made possible by The Biography Channel. Additional support has been provided by The Jane Henson Foundation and Cheryl Henson.

The Biography Channel is a 24-hour digital cable network dedicated to presenting compelling stories about the world’s most interesting people. One of the most sought after and fastest growing channels available today, The Biography Channel presents vibrant profiles of intriguing individuals, plus exciting new original series, short features and documentaries. For more information, visit www.biography.com.

Established in 1993, The Jim Henson Legacy was created by family and friends in response to the extraordinary interest in the life and work of Jim Henson. The organization is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Henson’s contributions to the worlds of puppetry, television, motion pictures, special effects and media technology. By making Henson’s creative body of work available to the public through presentations and exhibits, the Legacy will share the power of Henson’s art and imagination and his positive view of life with generations to come.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.

Download the audio podcast, created as a companion to Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, from our online exhibition preview at www.MichenerArtMuseum.org/exhibits/henson.php. The 30-minute tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at Jim Henson’s imaginative universe and features Karen Falk, Director of the Henson Archives; Craig Shemin, former writer for the Jim Henson Company; and Cheryl Henson, Jim Henson’s daughter and the president of the Henson Foundation. Although the tour features 20 stops linked directly to objects in the exhibition, the podcast can certainly be enjoyed without visiting the traveling presentation. This podcast was produced for the Louisiana Art and Science Museum by Acoustiguide with the assistance of The Jim Henson Legacy, through a generous grant from AT&T.

Michener Art Museum