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Jim Henson’s imagination unleashed in groundbreaking MoPOP exhibition

From Sesame Street to Fraggle Rock, Jim Henson’s pioneering work has touched millions since the 50’s, and his influence continues today.

A new exhibition making its world premiere this weekend at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture brings the most diverse and comprehensive collection of Henson’s career together for the first time.

“The intention is to tell the story of Jim Henson’s amazing career, how these characters and stories came about, give some insight into his lasting legacy,” said Barbara Miller, the curator of “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited”.

She’s been working on it since Henson’s family donated a vast store of memorabilia, storyboards, and other never before seen treasures from his decades-long career to the Museum of Moving Image in New York.

MoPop Curator Brooks Peck says the museum jumped on the chance to be the first in the country to host the new traveling exhibition.

“He’s completely evergreen, pardon the pun. His inter-generational appeal. Kids grow up watching him and introducing their kids to him. And even though he passed away some decades ago now, his legacy is really strong,” Peck said.

It’s a legacy that actually started well before Kermit and Elmo. The roots go back to those early days in DC when his creations became popular characters on national commercials and variety programs.

The exhibition features early films and other archives tracing his rise. It features plenty of Henson’s pioneering puppets, including Kermit, Ernie and Bert, and more, along with a vast array of everything from early drawings to costumes spanning his entire career.

“We tried to pick some important characters, some well-known characters from all of his major work…and there’s also some puppets you don’t know about … and I think we really wanted to mix that up,” Miller said.

They’ve done that and more. The archives, videos, costumes and other rarities capture the heartfelt musical and comedic genius that pervaded all of his groundbreaking work, from Sesame Street to the Muppets, Fraggle Rock to Labyrinth.

The “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited” kicks off with a gala party Friday night.

It officially makes its world premiere Saturday, and whether you love the Muppets or Dark Crystal, you can’t help but be moved and inspired by the new exhibit.

About the Author

Josh Kerns

Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He covers everything from May Day riots in Seattle to the latest Boeing news. Email Josh at jkerns@kiroradio.com

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