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Magic of Jim Henson's Imagination Celebrated in Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition at Experience Music Project
SEATTLE, WA.- Without “fences” to limit where his imagination could roam, Jim Henson (1936-1990)—artist, puppeteer, film director and producer—created elaborate imaginary worlds filled with unique characters, objects, environments and even languages and cultures. His work is enjoyed in dozens of languages in more than 100 countries. Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and The Jim Henson Legacy, offers a rare peek into the imagination and creative genius of this multitalented innovator and creator of Kermit the Frog, Big Bird and other beloved characters.

Jim Henson’s Fantastic World will open at Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (EMP|SFM) in Seattle Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 12 noon. EMP|SFM is proud to be the West Coast premiere venue for this highly anticipated exhibition. It will remain on view through Sunday, August 16, 2009 and will then continue on its 12-venue national tour through 2011. The exhibition will be on display in the first level of the museum’s science fiction galleries.

EMP|SFM members will have the first opportunity to see the exhibition Saturday, May 23 from 9 a.m. until 12 noon. The exhibition will open to the general public at 12 noon that day.

In addition to hosting Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, EMP|SFM is pleased to present Muppets™, Music and Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy, a touring program featuring screenings of early experimental videos, commercials and feature films. Select screenings will be introduced by Henson insiders throughout the run of the exhibition. Muppets™, Music and Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy is produced by The Jim Henson Legacy and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The exhibition features 100 original artworks, including drawings, cartoons and storyboards that illustrate Henson’s talent as a storyteller and visionary. Among the variety of exhibition objects are puppets and television and movie props, photographs of Henson and his collaborators at work and original video productions, including excerpts from Henson’s early career and experimental films.

“It’s such a treat to get to know Jim Henson through his doodles and drawings, his puppets and his fantastic performances,” said Karen Falk, curator of the exhibition and archivist at The Jim Henson Company. “We’re delighted to be able to share this inspiring and entertaining experience with people all over the country. Seeing his original work firsthand opens a window into his visual thinking and provides both an appreciation of Jim as an artist and a reason to laugh out loud.”

From the very beginning, Henson expressed his ideas with incredible bursts of invention, through a variety of visual forms, clever dialogue, songs, comic bits and animation. All of his work reveals a highly sophisticated and nuanced thought process, evident in the decades-long metamorphosis of a small group of captivating characters from simple doodles to cartoons to puppets to films. What began as a one-man enterprise eventually grew into an international phenomenon. As time passed, the simple hand puppets Henson created for his first television show, “Sam and Friends,” evolved into increasingly more sophisticated characters—from the Muppets of “The Muppet Show,” “Sesame Street” and “Fraggle Rock” fame to the larger-than-life fantasy creatures of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.





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