Touring the Jim Henson Exhibition in Los Angeles

If you live in the LA area, drop whatever you are doing (right now! at 9:15 on a Monday morning!) and go directly to the Skirball Cultural Center to see The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited before it closes on September 2! I really should have posted these photos sooner, but I got sidetracked by my Disneyland Paris trip report, so I hope you still have time to get out to this touring exhibit. This is the same exhibit that appeared at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, so hopefully they will announce further stops around the country after this one ends.

Last October, Patrick and I got to visit the permanent version of this exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY. This was on the same trip that we got to tour the East Coast Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and the set of Sesame Street. Because I am a terrible person, I still have not posted our MMI exhibit photos. But believe me when I say the touring “Imagination Unlimited” version is just as good, if not better than the permanent collection.  We loved the MMI exhibit, but we were surprised by how many major characters aren’t in it. And that’s because are in this exhibit, a veritable Muppet Greatest Hits!

However, in case you aren’t able to make it to the Skirball Center, Patrick and I have created one of our patented exhaustive-and-exhausting photo tours of the exhibit for you!




Some of the puppets from Julie’s Greenroom, starring Julie Andrews.



In case you were wondering, this one is the cutest.


I don’t know anything about the show Pajanimals, but I LOVE the name!








Beautiful Day Monster from The Ed Sullivan Show.



These versions of Wilkins and Wontkins from the Wilkins Coffee commercials were built in 1979 and 1981, respectively. Jim Henson created the original puppets in 1957 and the prop camera in 1961.




I had to laugh when I saw Billy and Sue displayed as if on an operating table under an “Experiments” sign. Suddenly their simple features take on a bit of freakishness…




Pitchman Pump puppets from 1963.












This Count von Count puppet is from the early 1970s, so it is highly likely he’s the one I used to watch!




Sesame Street’s Wiggling Bros. Circus “Little Big Top,” featuring Oscar the Grouch’s worm, Slimey, on the tightrope!



I know he’s everybody’s favorite, but…. Grover’s my favorite too!










Looks like Scooter scared the beejeepers outta Beaker!




I dunno which is creepier: Bunsen having NO eyeballs….


…Or Scooter having no eyeballs behind his glasses!



Why are Scooter’s shoes scuffed? Because the Muppets all come to life at night and have dance parties, obviously!



These puppets of Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson, known as The Country Trio, were designed and built by Bonnie Erickson for an appearance on The Perry Como Show. They also appeared The Dick Cavett Show and several episodes of The Muppet Show. I love that they are like 3-D caricatures—she really captured the essence of each performer!











Possibly the cutest thing on display in this or any other museum exhibit ANYWHERE!








And now, the Everything Else section of the exhibit….



Red and Wembley Fraggle!






Jen and Kira from The Dark Crystal. Scroll past if you don’t want to have nightmares…






More nightmare fodder: Chamberlain the Skeksis!





Aughra, also from The Dark Crystal.




They created the coolest rotating display case so you can see all the crazy detail on Jareth & Sarah’s costumes from Labyrinth!







They even have the toys from Sarah’s room at the beginning of Labyrinth.






Jim Henson at Walt Disney World!


The digital puppetry system for which Waldo from Muppet*Vision 3D was named.


There’s also a fun puppet stage where you can perform along to one of three songs: “Mah Nà Mah Nà,” “The Muppet Show Theme,” and, if you want to make everyone in the vicinity break down in tears, “Rainbow Connection.”


Patrick took a busman’s holiday and put on a little show for me…

Once again, The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited is on display at the Skirball Cultural Center until September 2—go see it!





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10 Responses
  • Suzanne
    August 7, 2018

    Thank you for the patented exhaustive tour! As a child of the 80s (I’m pretty sure I have that Miss Piggy book they reference in my basement) this was right up my alley!

    How did Patrick first get into puppetry?

    • Carrie
      August 7, 2018

      It’s a crazy story! The day that Jim Henson died, Patrick and his twin brother found out while they were at school and were devastated. They went to their art teacher in tears, and she let them spend the rest of the day in her classroom creating a tribute artwork that included all their favorite characters. From that moment, they began making puppets and putting on puppet shows for local libraries and schools, and they’ve never had another job since!

      • Suzanne
        August 8, 2018

        How great to discover your passion early and make a career out of it!

  • Christine Candelaria
    August 6, 2018

    Very cool! Side note: as I started reading this, “Mana Mana” (Mo’ Horizons Feat. Ismael River version) came on the Chipotle radio… crazy! Haha

    • Carrie
      August 6, 2018

      Wha…?!! That is AMAZING!!!

      • Christine
        August 6, 2018

        I know, I was like “waiiiit, are they watching me…”

        I hope this comes by me. I missed a Labyrinth exhibition in Atlanta that I’d have loved to see, but it was just a little too far from me to have bitten the travel bullet at the time. They also have Emmett Otter, who is one of my faves, on permanent display so I might just have to go if/when Labyrinth comes back.

        • Carrie
          August 6, 2018

          Oh you totally have to go! The Center for Puppetry Arts is probably our next puppet-related trip. They have so much amazing stuff there!

          • Christine
            August 8, 2018

            Someday! 😉

          • Carla
            August 8, 2018

            I grew up (and still live) just outside of Atlanta. Used to go to The Center for Puppetry Arts on field trips in elementary school! From what I remember, it is fantastic.

            • Carrie
              August 8, 2018

              That is so cool! It seems like a fantastic place for a field trip.

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