The Art of the Muppets was a touring exhibit designed by Henson staffer Mari Kaestle, which made its debut at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center in New York City in 1979. The exhibit showcased Jim Henson's creations, featuring photos, puppets, and video footage, including a 25 minute highlight reel.
Various posters and promotional materials were created to garner interest in a nationwide tour which included puppets from several Jim Henson productions including Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, the "Land of Gorch" characters used during the first season of Saturday Night Live and one of Henson's earliest series, Sam and Friends. Highlights of the exhibition included a touch wall, set up for visitors to feel the actual materials that went into the construction of the characters, an audio tour with Kermit the Frog and a model showing how Kermit and Miss Piggy managed to ride bicycles in the productions.
Due to the exhibition's success, a touring version was created. Starting at The San Diego Museum of Art, it toured twenty additional cities, finishing the tour at London's Museum of the Moving Image in 1988.
A book was released in conjunction with the tour, The Art of the Muppets.
According to the Henson archivist Karen Falk, the exhibition evolved into Jim Henson's Muppets Monsters and Magic, and had its final stop at London's Museum of the Moving Image in 1989, while further stops of said exhibition are actually known.
- Lincoln Center in New York City, New York: 1979
- The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California: Unknown date
- Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois: July 19 - September 1, 1980
- Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas: April 4 - May 17, 1981
- de Young Museum Hall of Flowers in San Francisco, California: June 27 - August 2, 1981
- Museum of Art in New Orleans, Louisiana: September 11 - October 25, 1981
- Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia: November 20, 1981 - January 3, 1982
- Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Canada: December 26, 1982 - February 6, 1983
- Detroit Institute Of Arts in Detroit, Michigan: September 11th - October 24th, 1982
- The Museum of Science in Miami, Florida: March 1st - April 22nd, 1984
- Children's Museum of Illinois, Illinois: 3 months around October 1985
- San Antonio Museum of Art in San Antonio,Texas: November 21, 1984 through January 13, 1985
- Children's Museum of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana: October 5, 1985 through January 5, 1986
- Salt Lake ART Center in Salt Lake City, Utah: October 11 - December 1, 1986
- Museum of the Moving Image, London: 1988
- Additional venue, not recognized by the Jim Henson Company Archivist:
- London Regional Children's Museum in London, Ontario: 1990
- ↑ Jim's Red Book - 6/5/1979 – ‘Lincoln Center Library – Party exhibit of The Art of the Muppets (runs thru Aug.)’ (2013-06-05)
- ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book - 10/21/1985 "In Indianapolis – Art of Mups"