Jim Henson Puppets Donated to the National Museum of American History (photos)

Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street were among 20 Jim Henson puppets donated to the Smithsonian (all photos by Jeff Malet) | Jeff Malet

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, the National Museum of American History received a donation of more than 20 Jim Henson puppets and props from the Henson family. Donations included Miss Piggy and the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show, Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and Boober Fraggle and Travelling Matt from Fraggle Rock. The gift was made on what would have been Henson’s 77th birthday and shortly after his wife, Jane Henson, died in April. Miss Piggy will go on display in March 2014 in the Smithsonian’s “American Stories” exhibit next to storied artifacts such as Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves. The original Kermit and Cookie Monster will go on view in November in a special display case. Fans of the Muppets will be able to see some of these latest additions to the collection in December in a new exhibition on puppetry.

Many of the donated puppets are the first constructions of these characters and represent Henson’s work in The Muppet Show (1976-1981), Fraggle Rock (1983-87), Sesame Street (1969-present) and his collaborations with artist Brian Froud for the 1982 feature film The Dark Crystal. These new puppets will join the current Jim Henson Collection. The original Kermit, made from an old coat and pingpong balls for eyes, was donated to the Smithsonian in 2010, along with other characters from “Sam and Friends.”

On hand at the donation ceremony were Cheryl Henson, daughter of Jim Henson; Bonnie Erickson, who designed and built many of the puppets and now serves as executive director of the Jim Henson Legacy; and Fran Brill, the first woman puppeteer Henson hired for “Sesame Street,” who created the characters of Zoe and Prairie Dawn.

View our photos from the dedication ceremony at the National Museum of American History by clicking on the photo icons below.

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