The World on a String: The Center for Puppetry Arts Museum Atlanta

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Located in midtown Atlanta, Georgia, the Center for Puppetry Arts has one of the most unique museums in all the United States. The Center has three primary objectives: performance, education and a museum. The Center has several original theatrical performances using marionettes and hand puppets every year in their state of the art theater. They also offer classes for children and adults in the art and history of puppetry. Their museum has the most extensive collection of puppets in both popular culture and throughout history.  Today we are exploring their vast museum. If you can imagine a  puppet or stop-motion figure, the museum probably has it on display. They also have marionettes from all over the world and various types of puppetry from throughout the ages. 

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One of the most popular exhibits, “The World of Jim Henson”  has some of his most famous creations from “Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock” as well as his movie work in “The Dark Crystal” and “The Labyrinth.”

I’m still kicking myself for not remembering to include this gem on my post about top sights in Georgia. This is not a place if you are visiting Atlanta that you want to forget or you too will be regretting it, especially if you grew up watching any form of children’s programming in the 1970’s or ’80s.

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The Museum is located in the arts district of midtown Atlanta and is easily accessible from the Interstate.
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Make sure your camera or phone is fully charged. There is a lot to see here.
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Puppets of some form or another have been in existence for centuries. They have been found in tombs in ancient Egypt, Central America, India, and Southeast Asia. Everywhere man has existed in the last 4000 years they can be found. Puppetry has served many purposes: entertainment, education, toys for children and to further communicate a culture’s religious and social values.

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This Puppet-Mask was used on the Broadway version of “The Lion King” but is similar to the mask puppets from Central Africa.

Puppetry has existed in many forms in Indonesia and India there are elaborate shadow puppets, African cultures had hand-carved wooden puppets, simple puppets made from corn husks were used by the indigenous peoples of North America, and the elaborate bunraku puppets of Japan. The museum has an extensive display of many of these. The curator of the museum has commented that the museum is an integral part of the Center’s philosophy as seeing the museum enhances understanding when watching the center’s many live presentations.

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Bunraku puppets from Japan.

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Many of the exhibits are hands-on, and the museum encourages play. The children seem to need a little coaxing. The adults present sometimes are a bit withdrawn, but it is stunning to see how quickly that passes. We are all just a toy away from being a child again.

From the Center’s opening in 1978 until his passing Jim Henson was a major supporter of the museum. His estate has lent many of his most famous creations to be displayed. The collection quite extensive covering Henson’s most famous and lesser-known works.

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“Fraggle Rock” a children’s program Jim Henson created in the 1980s

Henson created a singular form of puppetry called “Muppets” part puppet and marionette. The museum has several exhibits explaining how Henson, Frank Oz, and others would maneuver the figures and even has some replicas for visitors to play with.

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Fans of the movies “The Labyrinth” and “The Dark Crystal” will be pleased to know these works are included in the Jim Henson exhibit.

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This portion of the exhibit is very popular with visitors who grew up watching these films.

The museum also has many puppets from popular American Culture including some stop motion work from such masters as  Rankin and Bass,  Tim Burton,  and not Henson affiliated puppets such “Madame” from “Waylon and Madame” and “Tom Servo and Crow”  from “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

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“The Nightmare Before Christmas” from Tim Burton
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“Gumby and Pokey” I had a Gumby doll as a child and apparently so did Eddie Murphy.
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The cast of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

“Tom Servo and Crow” and “Madame”

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I would totally have this stained glass hanging in my home.

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This place is extraordinary. You absolutely have to visit. You will learn so much about this beautiful art form and can even see a live performance featuring the next generation of Jim Henson’s.

The Center for Puppetry Arts Museum admission is $12.50 for adults or children. their website is http://www.puppet.org/

4 Replies to “The World on a String: The Center for Puppetry Arts Museum Atlanta”

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