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Museum of Moving Image makes room for Muppets

Mayor Michael Bloomberg gives Miss Piggie a kiss as she joins the Museum of the Moving Image and The Jim Henson Legacy Tuesday. Photo courtesy Michael Bloomberg
TimesLedger Newspapers

The fabled Muppets have found a permanent home in Queens.

Jim Henson’s children announced Tuesday they are donating their father’s entire Muppet collection to Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image, which, in turn, will provide a new wing to display the beloved puppets.

“We are delighted that the Museum of the Moving Image will house this permanent collection of my father’s work,” said Henson’s daughter Cheryl. “Our fondness for this city and its institutions is deeply rooted as NYC was home for the Jim Henson Co. for many years and is now for the Jim Henson Workshop in Long Island City.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who served as master of ceremonies at the announcement, said, “It’s only fitting that this extraordinary collection of puppets, costumes, props and more should find a home in New York, where imagination and free expression are part of the fabric of our city and where anyone who’s watched an episode of ‘Sesame Street’ sees inspiration provided by the vibrant neighborhoods and characters that make our city so extraordinary.”

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who said his boyhood was spent “not far from here,” also took part in the ceremony.

The Jim Henson Legacy, the entity now in charge of the Henson collection, will turn over articles that include nearly 400 puppets, costumes, props and other objects. It also includes artifacts representing every major film and television production in which Henson played a key creative role.

The Henson gallery and exhibition are the signature components of the museum’s 25th anniversary campaign, for which $6 million out of a $10 million goal has already been raised.

Henson died of pneumonia May 16, 1990, at the age of 53.

Cheryl Henson said her mother died last month.

As the mayor spoke, Miss Piggy, one of the stronger personalities among the Muppets, suddenly appeared at the lectern to exchange bon mots with Hizzoner, who struggled in an effort to persuade her that the ceremony was not exclusively in her honor.

The mayor exchanged good-natured jibes with Miss Piggy and at one point, addressing the audience, he said, “You should know that Miss Piggy and I go back a long way. We even acted together in ‘A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.’”

“Yes. You were wonderful,” said Miss Piggy.

“Almost life-like.”

Cheryl, speaking of her mother, Jane, who died last month, said, “She loved the Muppet characters as though they were part of her own family. It was her dream to have these dear friends find a good home where they could be seen and enjoyed and where new audiences could learn about the many facets of my father’s work.”

The new wing at the museum will cost $5 million, with the city coming up with half the cost.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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