Puppets and Muppets in the Library

Francis A. Gregory Library

Puppets and Muppets in the Library

What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing and what do we think we might see?
Jim Henson: The Biography book coverMuppet Christmas Carol DVDSesame Road Album Cover imageThe Puppet Theatre in America book cover

Jim Henson: The Biography 
by Brian Jay Jones

Available as an eBook

The Muppet's Christmas Carol on DVD

Sesame Street's 
Sesame Road: Volume 2

Available for free download through Freegal

The Puppet Theatre in America: A History 1524 - 1948 with supplement: Puppets in America since 1948
by Paul McPharlin and Marjorie Batchelder McPharlin

In celebration of the Puppetry in America Artifact Wall at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, here is a DC Public Library Pinterest board of some great puppet and Muppet related materials in our print, media, and digital collections!  
Like many young people in this country, I grew up hooked on Muppets. But unlike many of my peers, I never really grew out of watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. Stick me in a room with Oscar, Cookie Monster, Animal and Grover and I'm entertained for hours. Who knows what it is that keeps me loving them - maybe it's the catchy tunes, or the hilarious song and dance routines. Probably though, more than anything else, I love the Muppets because of the sense of wonder, innocence and eternal optimism I feel whenever I watch them.

And now, thanks to the digital age, we have Animal on YouTube, Swedish Chef on Buzzfeed and Cookie Monster on Instagram. I only have to go as far as my phone to gleefully watch clips of all my favorite puppet friends! 

Soon I'll have another great and convenient way to see Muppets and puppets here in D.C. - by heading over to the opening of the Puppetry in America Artifact Wall at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (NMAH). This new exhibit opens up its first iteration on Friday, Dec. 13th.

Corpse BrideI was lucky enough to have a conversation with Dwight Bowers, the curator of the Puppetry in America Artifact Wall and Entertainment Collections at the NMAH. The enthusiasm of the NMAH staff for this exhibit is contagious! They worked hard to collect puppets and Muppets that reflect the unique and special history of American puppetry. What a treat to be able to visit Prairie Dawn from Sesame Street, Howdy Doody, marionettes from Captain Kangaroo, hand puppets from D.C.'s own Sam and Friends, and even stop-motion puppets from the 2005 Tim Burton film Corpse Bride.

NMAH staff have gathered together the many types of puppets that represent American puppetry -- finger puppets, shadow puppets, marionettes, ventriloquist puppets, paper puppets and more. Bowers explained that the puppets on display cover the art form's history in this country with its roots in European immigrant traditions. What's unique about American puppetry is its distinct focus on entertainment (as opposed to religious ceremony), starting from its stage and radio beginnings and continuing on to the puppets we see in film, television and through digital media today. According to Bowers, Jim Henson was particularly adept at achieving that winning combination of art and commercialism that Americans love. NMAH announced in September that they received more than 20 puppets and props from the Henson Family and many of them will be on display down the line.

DC Public Library has so many children's books, comic books, films, craft books, and biographies about puppets and Muppets for all ages, it would be impossible to list them all here. On top of that, we also have great online resources on the same subjects. Grab your library card and explore our databases to read newspaper and magazine articles both old and new, like:
If you're more interested in doing something than reading something, look for puppet programs at the library too!

We had fun at our Holiday Puppet Show at Francis Gregory Library on Wednesday, Dec. 11; head down to the museum this weekend to meet the new additions to the NMAH collection!
-- B. Dougherty