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.
One syndicated article about the exhibit noted that Mari Kaestle, who helped develop the exhibit, had expressed initial concern that the characters would lack charm and warmth when displayed as inanimate objects, but was won over by the fact the show would feature their craftsmanship.
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: December 9, 1979 to January 13, 1980. The acting director of the museum, Steven Brezzo, was a "college friend of Jim Henson".
- Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois: July 19 - September 1, 1980
- Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles, California: November 29, 1980 to February 10, 1981
- Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas: April 4 - May 17, 1981 (A 13-foot-tall Kermit, suspended by wires outside the venue, was stolen in mid-April.)
- 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 venues, not recognized by the Jim Henson Company Archivist:
- London Regional Children's Museum in London, Ontario: 1990
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Mark Barabak through UPI, "Muppets now art objects", The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois), 7 December 1979, A-13. Contains the end date.
- ↑ Jim's Red Book - 6/5/1979 – ‘Lincoln Center Library – Party exhibit of The Art of the Muppets (runs thru Aug.)’ (2013-06-05)
- ↑ "Coming Up in North County (Special Advertising Supplement)", The Los Angeles Times, 22 November 1979. Only notes "through January" for the end date.
- ↑ "Miss Piggy just has star quality", The San Bernardino County Sun, Dec. 1, 1980.
- ↑ "13-foot Kermit hops it", The Toronto Star, 19 April 1981, A1.
- ↑ "Entertainment Guide", The Toronto Star, 23 December 1982, B6; article also notes the exhibit was not included in the normal price of admission, but was a $2 up-sell.
- ↑ Adele Freedman, "It's a Muppet invasion: Kermit, Miss Piggy and friends take over the Science Centre", The Globe and Mail, 25 December 1982, E5. (Article only explicitly notes the end date, but was published the day before it opened.)
- ↑ Jim Henson's Red Book - 10/21/1985 "In Indianapolis – Art of Mups"