Twenty puppets from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock have been donated to The National Museum of American History by the Jim Henson Foundation.

Jim Henson and his Muppets at ATV in 1978The latest donations will join Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch and Muppet Show lead star Kermit the Frog who are already on display at the venue.

No American artist has appealed to and affected as many people in different age groups and cultures the way Jim Henson has.

The off-beat humor, zany characters and educational messages created the perfect combination of comedy and storytelling for classic shows that continue to entertain and teach audiences worldwide. – John Gray, director of the museum.

The puppets and props arrived at the museum on the anniversary of Henson’s birthday, September 24th. Highlights include the glamorous Miss Piggy and the Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show, Bert and Elmo from Sesame Street, and Red Fraggle and Traveling Matt from Fraggle Rock.

Many of the donated puppets are the first original constructions of these characters and represent Henson’s work in early television work. Henson, one of the leading innovators of 20th-century entertainment, was an American puppeteer, screenwriter, film director and producer who brought the ancient art of puppetry into the modern age. He began his career in 1954, while still in high school, and continued until his untimely death in 1990.

ATV Elstree, 1981, The last-ever Muppet Show is recorded, Lew Grade (left) with Jim Henson (middle)The Muppet Show, produced in North London at the ATV Elstree studios, ran from 1976 to 1981. It was produced in the UK following all the major American television networks turning down the idea. The series has been described as “the best example of American vaudeville” The Muppets became Hensons most successful creations venturing into several television spin-offs and big screen movies.

Henson’s legacy continues through The Jim Henson Foundation’s efforts to promote and develop the art of puppetry in the US, and through The Jim Henson Legacy which continues to preserve and present the artistic contributions of Henson and his work.

[Pictured Top: Jim Henson at ATV in 1976 with his Muppets. Pictured Bottom: ATV boss Lew Grade with Jim Henson and the Muppet Show crew following the final recording at ATV Elstree in 1981.]

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