Walking through ‘Jim Henson’s Fantastic World’, the exhibition dedicated to the creative genius of film, television, art and puppetry in Astoria’s Museum of Moving Image, I wasn’t surprised to see more adults there than children. I found the same later that evening when I scurried into the museum’s beautiful theater to watch Muppets in Manhattan – the entire auditorium was filled with grown ups, clutching brochures and souvenir muppet toys (of course, I could not exclude myself from this, as I sat figuring out the mechanics of my Cookie Monster hand puppet I had just purchased).
I’m not sure how to explain the adult to child ratio without sounding Disney-ish, corny even, so let me just say it and then we can pretend that I didn’t say it and instead I said something that had much more depth and poise, ok? Ok so, the exhibition really reminds you of simpler times (groan), but that’s the honest truth. It transports you back to an era that fused innocence with such an inherent optimism that it is hard not to go through the celebrated exhibit without looking like Mr. Teeth (if you do not know who this is, avert your eyes from this article immediately you non-Muppet loving being!).
Mr. Henson was not only a puppeteer. He was an advertising genius, an artist, a graphic designer and an experimental filmmaker. He was also an invaluable source for likeminded people who itched to create a ceremonious world where children could learn important lessons – both in life and in academics. The foundation of his work didn’t just work on fantasy, he possessed a rare talent that allowed him to bring inanimate objects to life – making characters such as Kermit, Rowlf, Miss Piggy and Gonzo actual characters with emotional veracity. His work teaches children and adults (including the 100 adults that sat with me last Sunday and applauded as Swedish Chef came on the screen) about community, compassion, individuality and leadership, without ever sugar coating or talking down to the audience.
The whole show features over 120 artifacts, including drawings, storyboards, and props, all of which illustrate Henson’s boundless creativity and innumerable accomplishments, and this weekend is the final opportunity to see this incredible exhibition. On Friday evening and Saturday afternoon there will be a Muppets Movie sing-a-long in the Museum’s cinema, with Heather Henson, the youngest daughter of the wonderful duo Jim and Jane presenting. If you are looking for a unique day out with your family, friends or even by yourself, then you have found it. Your Majestery concierge will arrange travel, tickets, a tour guide, a movie screening and a bite to eat afterwards for you and your party, all you have to do is enjoy.