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Major Henson Family Donation to the Museum of the Moving Image Will Lead to New Gallery in Winter 2014-2015

MOMI piggybloomberg 01All of us here at The Jim Henson Legacy are delighted to share the news of a major project that we've been working on:


Astoria, New York, May 21, 2013 — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Museum of the Moving Image, The Jim Henson Legacy,and other officials today announced that the family of Jim Henson has donated nearly 400 puppets, costumes, props, and other objects to the Museum, which will build a new gallery devoted to Henson’s important and lasting creative achievements. The project, which has a fundraising goal of $5 million, is anchored by $2.75 million in funding from the City of New York for the construction of the new gallery, which is expected to open to the public in winter 2014–2015.

“It’s only fitting that this extraordinary collection of puppets, costumes, props, and more should find a home in New York, where imagination and free expression are part of the fabric of our City, and where anyone who’s watched an episode of Sesame Street sees the inspiration provided by the vibrant neighborhoods and characters that make our city so extraordinary," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "The City is proud to provide support for the new gallery to house the collection, attracting visitors from around the world to experience this singular body of work.”

Carl Goodman, the Museum’s Executive Director, stated: “We are tremendously grateful to the Henson family and to the City of New York for identifying the Museum as the location of a permanent New York City attraction devoted to this transformational figure.”

Cheryl Henson, daughter of the late Jane and Jim Henson, added: “We are delighted that Museum of the Moving Image will house this permanent collection of my father’s work. Our fondness for this city and its institutions is deeply rooted as NYC was home for The Jim Henson Company for many years and is now for the Jim Henson Workshop in Long Island City. It is especially meaningful that the Moving Image should be home to this select collection as it was at this Museum in 2012 that the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition Jim Henson’s Fantastic World concluded its very successful five-year national tour.”

At the announcement today, the Mayor, the Museum, and The Jim Henson Legacy were joined by New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, and Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver. The presentation also featured special appearances by Miss Piggy, Gobo Fraggle, and Oscar the Grouch.

Between 1955 and his death in 1990, Jim Henson and the beloved characters that he and his collaborators created were responsible for some of our culture’s most memorable moving images. Through the continuing work of The Jim Henson Company, Sesame Workshop, and The Walt Disney Company, Henson’s creations continue to delight millions around the globe.

The donation to the Museum includes puppets, costumes, props, and other artifacts representing every major film and television production on which Henson played a key creative role during his life time, including Sam and Friends, The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. At the heart of the collection are approximately 200 puppets, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Elmo, Ernie, Bert, Count von Count, Gobo Fraggle, the Swedish Chef, and Statler and Waldorf.

The collection will form the basis of a dynamic visitor experience housed in a new 2,200-square-foot gallery on the Museum’s second floor, adjacent to its core exhibition, Behind the Screen. Artifacts from the Henson family donation will be presented along with character sketches, storyboards, and scripts from The Jim Henson Company archive, as well as with film and television clips, behind-the-scenes footage, and interactive experiences.

Complementing the Henson exhibition and taking place throughout the Museum will be a wide range of ongoing programs, including curriculum-based education programs for school groups, continuous screenings in the Museum’s Tut’s Fever theater located next to the new gallery, and live events featuring those who worked with and carry on the legacy of Jim Henson.

The Henson gallery and exhibition are the signature components of the Museum’s 25th anniversary campaign — the Museum opened to the public in 1988 — for which $6 million of a $10 million goal has already been raised.

“The artistry, creativity, and innovation evident in Jim Henson’s creations are a wonderful complement to the Museum of the Moving Image’s dynamic collection,” said Commissioner Levin. “Henson and his partners worked here in New York long before the Muppets took Manhattan, and we are proud to join The Jim Henson Legacy, the Museum, and other supporters to provide future generations of artists and audiences with the opportunity to enjoy this remarkable gift.”

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