Rochester, N.Y. - The family of legendary puppeteer and television icon Jim Henson have donated to The Strong in Rochester, New York, more than 540 licensed products and 60 books that chronicle Henson's more than 30-year career. The donation-coordinated by Bonnie Erickson, executive director of The Jim Henson Legacy, and Karen Falk, archives director for The Jim Henson Company-includes playthings and other items related to Henson's numerous television and movie productions such as Sesame Street, Dinosaurs, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Muppet Show. Many of the artifacts will be available for view in the Muppets, Fraggles, and Beyond: The Jim Henson Collection display opening at The Strong on April 8.
"Jim Henson not only changed television puppetry forever, but he helped to create a cast of life-like characters that continue to touch the lives of children and adults," says Patricia Hogan, curator at The Strong.
Cheryl Henson, president of The Jim Henson Foundation, says, "My father took great joy in seeing his creations adapted to become toys. He was delighted to think of the Muppet characters becoming a part of a child's life in the form of a favorite stuffed animal, game or bedtime story. My parents had four young children at home when they started working on Sesame Street. They knew the power of play first hand. Toys that inspire creative play were important to them as parents as well as artists."
Henson transformed the art of television puppetry by using the television screen to frame the action while the performers watched themselves on a small monitor. This allowed them to have better eye focus and required more precise, coordinated mouth movements. Henson started his television career in 1954 while still in high school, but moved into the mainstream in 1969 when he created the puppet cast for the launch of Sesame Street, including Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and other popular characters to life. His illustrious career in television and movies earned him Emmy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also impacted the world of play and playthings significantly and his contributions earned him a place in the Toy Industry Association's Toy Industry Hall of Fame-housed at The Strong.
"In many ways, work and play were synonymous to Jim Henson," says Bonnie Erickson. "Jim had an enormous appetite for both. All of us who worked with Jim were not only allowed but encouraged to use play as a way to find new ways to solve complicated problems. The productions and many of the products they inspired came out of that collaborative work/play environment that Jim created."
The Jim Henson Collection includes coloring books, activity books, board games, card games, video games, stuffed animals, puppets, jigsaw puzzles, and play sets, as well as other licensed products-from alarm clocks to household decorations to cassette tapes. The collection adds significantly to The Strong's existing holdings of products licensed by Henson and his successor companies.
Muppets, Fraggles, and Beyond: The Jim Henson Collection display is open through July 5 and included with general museum admission fees.
About The Strong®
The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of video games and other historical materials related to play.
Museum Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
General Admission Fees (does not include admission to Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden®): age 2 and older $14, under age 2 free, members free.
Admission to Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden: General Admission fee plus $3 for members, $4 for nonmembers, under age 2 free. Entry is by timed ticket only.
Parking: Free parking is available at the museum for all guests on a first-come, first-served basis during regular museum hours. Please note that, on high visitation days, the museum lot may reach capacity early in the day. If space is not available on site at the time of your visit, additional parking is available at neighboring municipal garages for a fee. The Strong is not responsible for fees incurred at off-site locations.