The Museum of the Moving Image in New York will have to build an entire new gallery to house the almost 400 Jim Henson puppets, costumes, and other items it is receiving as a donation from the Jim Henson family. The Jim Henson gallery of the museum is set to open in Queens the winter of 2014-2015 and Mayor Bloomberg has such high hopes that it will be a tourist draw that the City of New York is paying $2.75 million to the museum’s fundraising goal of $5 million.
The museum will be getting about 200 puppets, including Bert & Ernie, the Swedish Chef, Gobo Fraggle, Kermit the Frog, of course Miss Piggy, and many more. The items also span Henson’s entire film and television career, including props from The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street, and Labyrinth. Since news of a museum housing so many of our childhood dreams took us to a warm happy place, we asked our staff about some of their favorite Henson-fueled memories. I personally still know all the words to “Love Led Us Here” from Muppet Treasure Island. Here are some more memories:
Breia Brissey: I find myself humming the songs from The Muppet Christmas Carol more than I should probably be willing to admit. But my earliest memory of the Muppets is when they took me to a place called Kokomo. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the most appropriate song for a five year old to belt out. But that didn’t stop me from singing every time I saw this clip.
Deven Persaud: I remember being a kid and seeing The Muppet Movie for the first time, and growing up knowing all the words to “Rainbow Connection.” Where this gets sentimental for me, was this past Christmas – I gave my 3-year-old nephew the movie as a present and he ALREADY knew all the words to the song. We sat down on the couch and as soon as the movie started he started singing along…it suddenly got very dusty in that living room. Just even more proof, that Jim Henson, and the Muppets, are timeless and appeal to any generation.
Jason Adams: When I was a kid, I was a fan of two things: Sesame Street and underripe nectarines. The first few seasons of the show played over and over on our local PBS station, and one of the episodes that came up a lot was one that had a sort of proto-Fraggle Rock sketch with two hungry extraterrestrials who tried to successfully procure nectarines from a tree. Alien A, the Geefle, could pick the fruit, but couldn’t bend his raised arms to lower them down into his mouth. Alien B, the Gonk, was too short to reach the tree. So they decided to work together with the Geefle picking the nectarines and the Gonk then feeding both of them. The lesson I was supposed to learn was cooperation. What I always fixated on, though, was the fact that there was a loud crunching noise when they bit into the nectarines. Like me, the Geefle and the Gonk clearly liked their nectarines a little on the firm side too.
Adam Carlson: True story: Like most of middle America, the first time I saw The Muppets Movie was with my mom — my mom, who loved the Muppets and loved “Rainbow Connection.” It’s still the first thing I think of when I think of Kermit, or rainbows.
Lanford Beard: When I was too young to dress myself, my pig-obsessed mother took every opportunity to outfit me in swine-themed clothes — Miss Piggy was a personal favorite. Though I loved Muppet Babies and Muppets Take Manhattan, I decided around age six it was time to take a stand and cut the pigs from my wardrobe. All these years later, I’d like to personally apologize for not recognizing Miss Piggy as a style icon. Moi bad!
Jeff Labrecque: The Muppets were the greatest gateway drug to comedy ever invented. When the The Muppet Show aired on Sunday nights when I was a kid, it was The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, and Seinfeld all rolled up in one amazing half hour. Their guests were mostly people a 7-year-old didn’t know… like Madeline Kahn and Steve Martin and John Cleese. But you couldn’t help but be drawn into this puppet world and live vicariously through the equally funny guests… who you then would discover have pretty good careers of their own. Of course, when the cast of Star Wars visited the Muppets in 1980, my childhood brain exploded and has never fully recovered.