My friends and I, all products of the Sesame St. and Muppets generation, spent a patriotic day at the National Heritage Museum, not scouring the battlefield maps or marveling at the Revolutionary era uniforms as true Americans, but enjoying a much livelier, colorful display of furry Muppets as part the Jim Henson tribute exhibit. I actually have no idea if the museum has such historic artifacts because I’m a museum slacker, but I imagine it does and that the people who were attending the parade in Lexington that blocked our way at every turn are the kind of people who would be interested in heritage memorabilia, but I just wanted to see Ernie and Bert in the flesh. Or in their synthetic glory.
And there they were, a distant hint of yellow and orange at the end of the hall.
The exhibit featured elaborate storyboards designed by Henson, as well as a number of his doodles and early Muppet sketches. Big Bird, in his early days, was more anemic than the robust yellow giant he is today. Oscar was orange. And Grover looked mean. A video featuring some of Henson’s early work—commercials mostly—and interviews he did on The Dick Cavett Show and others in the 70s, played in a small screening room where kids and adults gathered around the screen as if watching Sesame St. in their living room.
And then there were the Muppets themselves, encased in glass to ward off the crazy huggers like myself. Rowlfe, with arms outstretched, yearned to hug me back. Alas, we were divided.
All in all, an excellent exhibit that’s a must-see for Henson fans, even if it is in a museum that’s funded by that secretive group of Masons.