Jim Henson`s FantasticWorld - Smithsonian Institution Traveling



Jim Henson`s FantasticWorld - Smithsonian Institution Traveling
Jim Henson’s
Fantastic World
Organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and the
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
in cooperation with the Henson Family, The Jim
Henson Company, The Muppets Holding Company,
LLC, and Sesame Workshop
“There are no rules,
and those are the rules.”
Cantus, Fraggle Rock
Cover left: Jim Henson was at his
most philosophical in the role of
Cantus, the leader of the minstrels,
on Fraggle Rock. The widely
acclaimed television series ran
from 1983-87.
Photo by John E. Barrett
Cover right: The whimsical nature of
Henson’s ink-and-marker-on-paper
sketches of the Frackles for a 1970
television special is inherent in all of
his work and evident in the world of
Fraggle Rock.
On view in exhibition: Cantus and
Gobo Fraggle puppets, Fraggle
Jim Henson takes flight in his 1964
award-winning short film, Time
Piece, a surreal, symbolic, and
satirical look at the human experience and the nature of man.
On view in exhibition: Time Piece
production materials, photographs,
excerpts from film
Photo by John E. Barrett
Jim Henson (1936-1990), artist, puppeteer, film director, and
producer, began his artistic career with the most basic of tools—
a pencil and paper. What started as a one-man enterprise
eventually grew into an internationally acclaimed phenomenon.
Over time, the simple hand puppets he created for his first
television show, Sam and Friends, evolved into increasingly more
sophisticated characters—from the Muppets of Sesame Street
and Fraggle Rock fame to the larger-than-life fantasy creatures of
The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth—seen on television shows and
movies in dozens of languages in more than 100 countries.
Jim Henson’s characters provided an
outlet for the various sides of his
sense of humor and personality, and
Henson always considered Kermit his
alter ego. This Kermit, shown with
Henson about 1989, is a more polished
version of the original Kermit that
Henson made in 1955 from his mother’s
old spring coat.
From the very beginning, Henson expressed his ideas in incredible bursts
of invention, through a variety of visual forms, clever dialogue, songs,
comic bits, and animation. At the height of his creative years, he developed
a metaphysically inspired imaginary world filled with characters, objects,
environments, and even a unique language conceived and created entirely
in his brilliant mind. All of Henson’s 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 videos and movies.
Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, a new traveling exhibition from The Jim
Henson Legacy and SITES, offers audiences a rare peek into the imagination
and creative genius of this multi-talented innovator and creator of Kermit,
Big Bird, and other beloved characters. The approximately 100 original
artworks in the exhibition include drawings, cartoons, and storyboards
illustrating Henson’s talent as a storyteller and visionary. In addition to
framed art, the exhibition encompasses a variety of other objects including
puppets and television and movie props, photographs of Henson and his
collaborators at work, documents, a biographical timeline, large color
murals printed on fabric, videos and films, and other supporting materials.
With the items provided for an optional hands-on education and resource
area, visitors of all ages will enjoy flipping through portfolios that feature
reproductions of Henson’s notes, drawings, and cartoons; engaging in other
low-tech interactives; and participating in family activities.
Curated with all audiences in mind, Jim Henson’s Fantastic World will
inspire, fascinate, and entertain.
Nutty Bird, watercolor and pencil on
paper, 1966
Henson developed hundreds of characters
and designs for commercial purposes,
including this wacky bird for Royal
Crown Cola.
Charlie, pencil and gouache on paper, 1966
Often parodying the advertising industry,
Henson’s television commercials were
among the first to be funny. He created
Charlie, an engine character, for American
Oil Motor Club.
The Jim Henson Legacy
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 his art, his
imagination, and his positive view of life with generations to come.
The Jim Henson Company
The Jim Henson Company, an established leader in family entertainment for half a century, is internationally recognized as a leader in
puppetry, animatronics, and computer graphics. Best known as creators of the world-famous Muppets, the company is the recipient of
nearly 50 Emmy Awards, nine Grammy Awards, and two Academy
Awards. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles with offices
and production facilities in New York.
Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
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.
Photo by Robert Fuhring
“It all begins
with those little
sketches of
characters . . .
They’re based on a personality type or an
attitude more than anything else. I look
at the sketches until it seems to have a
whole quality of the personality. Then we
begin building the puppet.”
Jim Henson
Jim Henson’s 1969 marker-on-paper drawings of Bert and Ernie were all that master
puppet builder Don Sahlin needed to create
this unforgettable Sesame Street pair.
On view in exhibition: This photograph, Bert
and Ernie puppets, Henson’s original design
Contents: Approximately 100 framed works of
original art from the collections of The Jim Henson
Legacy and The Jim Henson Company, 10 floor cases
of puppets and artifacts, 3-4 wall cases of documents,
11 text panels, labels, 2 illustrated timelines, 2 soft
murals, 3 videos (5 min. each) with equipment,
20-min. video documentary (with optional projection
equipment), low-tech hands-on interactives, supplemental educational materials
Participation fee: $25,000 for 12-week booking
period, plus prorated shipping
Size: 3,000–3,500 square feet (280–325 square meters)
Weight: To be determined
Crates: To be determined
Security: High
Shipping: Prorated, SITES-designated carrier
Tour begins: September 2007
“I’ve always been intrigued
with what can be done with
the visual image.”
Jim Henson
As a host of Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, you will receive the following:
Complete curatorial and registrarial information
Complete shipping, handling, and installation instructions
Wall-to-wall fine-arts insurance coverage under the Smithsonian’s policy
Public relations support including sample press release, images, logos, and
advice on promoting the exhibition and hosting special events
Educational and programming resources
Ability to link to and from the SITES website
Exhibition brochures
Ten copies of the book It’s Not Easy Being Green (Hyperion, 2005)
The complicated technology of the Drill Team Mechanical
Puppets allowed two puppeteers (here, Jim Henson and
Jerry Juhl, in 1961) to manipulate the whole battalion of
soldiers at once. This experimentation laid the groundwork
for the internal mechanisms that control the Muppets’
facial expressions. Eventually, Henson and his colleagues
developed an award-winning computer control system
that set the industry standard for animatronic techniques.
On view in exhibition: Original drawing for Drill Team
Mechanical Puppets, video of puppet mechanical in action
For his 1982 feature film The Dark
Crystal, Henson and his creative
team developed a world with original
characters like the Mystics, and
unique plant life, household objects,
weapons, and musical instruments.
Photo by Murray Close
On view in exhibition: Handmade
maquette of a Mystic character, items
from film
“It’s such a wonderful challenge to try to
design an entire world . . . I love to feel
I’m doing something for the first time.”
Jim Henson
This exhibition has been designated High Security and will be offered only to institutions
that are able to meet the Smithsonian’s requirements. Institutions hosting Jim Henson’s
Fantastic World will be required to adhere to the requirements listed below. (This exhibition has not yet been designed or fabricated. Additional requirements may be added to
reflect the final exhibition.)
Exhibitors must have a limited-access gallery of sufficient area and wall space to
accommodate the exhibition. An open mall, hallway, or lounge area is not acceptable.
Functioning fire prevention systems and fire protection devices that alert guards and/or
local fire departments must be available in the exhibition gallery, staging areas, and
storage spaces. Smoking, eating, and drinking are prohibited in the exhibition gallery,
staging areas, and storage spaces. The exhibitor must have a recording hygrothermograph(s) in the exhibition gallery. Empty crates and other packing materials must be
stored in a secure, pest-, humidity-, and temperature-controlled dry area. No part of the
exhibition may be stored, crated, or moved off the premises without prior authorization
from SITES.
Collections Management
It is extremely important that light levels, temperature, and relative humidity be controlled at the specified levels while sensitive objects are on display. Light damage is irreversible, and the following levels must be maintained: light levels on framed objects
must not exceed 5 foot candles and 10 foot candles on object cases. No direct sunlight
must reach the artifacts or graphics. Fluorescent lights must be filtered for UV. The exhibition gallery, staging areas, and storage spaces must have temperature and humidity controls to guarantee an environment of 45-50% relative humidity and 68ºF-72º F, 24 hours a
day, seven days a week. A member of the exhibitor’s professional collections management or conservation staff must make daily checks of the exhibition. No flash or tripod
photography of exhibition components or artifacts is allowed without prior authorization
from SITES.
Trained professional guards, whose sole duty is to protect the exhibition, must be present
in sufficient numbers to protect the exhibition adequately throughout the time it is on site
(during truck off-loading, unpacking, installation, de-installation, repacking, and truck
loading) and on view. Security cameras may not substitute for human guards during public hours. Guard(s) need not be armed. Security must be maintained during hours when
the exhibition is closed to the public, including periodic checks of the exhibition gallery
by guard personnel or adequately monitored electronic surveillance to detect motion,
heat, and smoke.
Installation and Takedown
All handling, installation, and de-installation of artifacts must be performed by museum
staff trained in handling, packing, and installing works of art. Volunteers and interns are
not acceptable for handling artifacts. The exhibition will be shipped by a Smithsonianapproved designated carrier. Venues must use the hanging and security hardware provided with the exhibition. The exhibition is anticipated to be shipped to each venue in up to
a 53-foot tractor trailer and may contain exhibition crates weighing up to 400 pounds.
Exhibitors will need to have the facility and staff or the ability to hire skilled personnel
for crate delivery and movement. The exhibition components must be left in their crates
in the exhibition gallery, staging areas, or storage spaces for 24 hours before unpacking.
Mahna Mahna, ink on paper, 1971
Shannon Perry
202.633.3138 • [email protected]
This is Henson’s original sketch
for the bearded hippie Mahna
Mahna, who with his cow-like
partners, the Snowths, was a
regular on Sesame Street and
The Muppet Show.
Content | Design
Deborah Macanic
202.633.3101 • [email protected]
On view in exhibition: Puppets
PO Box 37012
MRC 941
Washington, DC 20013-7012
Design by Studio A, www.thestudioa.com
© 2006 Smithsonian Institution
Photo by Ted Neuhoff
© 2006 The Jim Henson Company. Jim Henson’s mark and
logo are trademarks of The Jim Henson Company. All Rights
Reserved. | MUPPET, MUPPETS, and the Muppet Characters
are registered trademarks of Muppets Holding Company,
LLC. All Rights Reserved. © 2006 Muppets Holding
Company, LLC. | Sesame Street ® and associated characters, trademarks, and design elements are owned and
licensed by Sesame Workshop. © 2006 Sesame Workshop.
All Rights Reserved.

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