Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jim Hensen's Fantastic World Now Open

Jim Hensen’s Fantastic World opened Friday at the Museum of Science and Industry, and walking through this exhibit was like stepping into the mind of a creative genius. Hensen is known for his iconic characters and creations like Kermit the Frog, Ernie and Bert, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, The Dark Crystal, Miss Piggy and many others. The exhibit celebrates Hensen’s remarkable genius and his brilliant creative process, showcasing the sketches, storyboards, props, puppets and other elements that he used to bring his visions to life.
For adults, the exhibit will bring back a lot of memories, and for me it was fascinating to see how some of these memories literally got their start.

Here’s a storyboard for The Muppet Show theme song, one of my favorites items in the exhibit:

And who can forget Mahna Mahna??

And here’s an illustrated storyboard for the old Sesame Street counting bits - “How many is 5?”

Kids can try their hands at the creative process with some hands-on activities, including:

  • Puppet Theater – Kids can choose from a selection of props and design their own set, then direct their own puppet show and watch it on a tv screen.
  • Storyboarding – The storyboard wall lets kids draw out their storylines with etch-a-sketches.
  • Create-A-Character – this fun wall of parts lets kids pull together the pieces they want to create their own fun character.
  • Foley Stage – Kids can learn about sound effects, using objects to make sounds and creating their own soundtracks.

Aside from the obvious entertainment that these activities provide for kids, it can teach older kids how the creative process works. Heck - it could even inspire them to a career path that they didn’t even know existed. Perhaps if I’d seen this as a kid, I’d have been ready with a semi-intelligent argument to make against my parents when they dissuaded me from being an art major.

But I digress. If you’ve ever enjoyed any of Jim Hensen’s creations, you’ll get a new sense of appreciation awe for where these creations came from. The exhibit will be best enjoyed by adults and older kids, especially those with a creative side. And while the exhibit made me wonder what might have happened had I continued on my own creative path, I mostly wonder what fantastic creations the world has missed out on with Hensen’s untimely passing. We’ll never know.

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