Visitors to The Durham will be able to see a broad range of artifacts related to Henson’s career, including more than 20 puppets, character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, film and television clips, behind-the-scenes footage, iconic costumes and interactive experiences that allow visitors to try their hands at puppeteering on camera and designing a puppet character.
The exhibition begins with a brief look at Henson’s early life through images of Henson as a young man and reproductions of some of his early drawings and sketches, and then follows his steady rise and immense contributions to the art and industry of the moving image.
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Highlights of the exhibition include a Kermit the Frog puppet from 1978; handwritten scripts from Henson’s first television series, “Sam and Friends” (1955-1961); a clip from his Academy Award-nominated experimental film “Time Piece” (1965); Jen and Kira puppets from “The Dark Crystal” (1982); familiar “Sesame Street” puppets, including Grover, Ernie, Bert, and Count von Count; plus costumes from “Labyrinth” (1986).
The exhibition prominently features an exploration of “The Muppet Show” (1976-1981) from a concept Henson first developed in the early 1960s to an internationally beloved series. This section features iconic puppets that helped define this world-wide 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 sets were designed to accommodate puppets and performers.