Miss Piggy, Big Bird and Kermit the Frog are heading South.
The Center for Puppetry Arts, long one of Atlanta’s most distinctive institutions, will add to its luster in 2015, when it opens a new museum that will be the world’s largest repository for the Jim Henson Collection.
The late genius behind Sesame Street and a puppetry renaissance, Henson cut the ribbon when the center opened in 1978. His daughters were on hand for today’s announcement. “Our goal was always to get the puppets out of boxes, to keep them live,” said Cheryl Henson, president of the Jim Henson Foundation. “Thank you for building a home for that legacy.”
Although the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York have received Henson works, Atlanta’s will be, Henson said, “the definitive collection and the best center in the world.”
The gift, to encompass puppets — both iconic and little-known gems — and artifacts, was announced in 2007. The ensuing recession slowed fundraising, but the center has succeeded in amassing the $14 million needed for the project, which also includes a new library and storage facility, an expanded gift shop and renovated public spaces.
Doubling the size of the current museum, the 15,000-square-foot space will have two parts. One portion will be devoted to global expressions of puppetry. The Henson material will unfold chronologically, charting the story of Henson’s creative career. It will occupy an addition that will be constructed in front of the current Spring Street facade.The addition is a rectangle with a sloping roof and a corner cut out for an entrance. At present, the addition presents a windowless, blank face, which has been a problem with the current incarnation, one that its geometry won’t mitigate. The team is in discussion about ways to enliven it; ideas include temporary, revolving projections.
Project Management: Heery International, Inc.
Architect: Clark Patterson Lee
Exhibition Design: Thinkwell Group, Inc.
General Contractor: New South Construction