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Queens Chronicle

Jim Henson gallery planned at Museum of the Moving Image

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Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:41 am, Thu May 30, 2013.

Although Miss Piggy made a convincing pitch for the planned Muppets gallery at the Museum of the Moving Image to be devoted to her solely, to her reluctant acceptance the honor will go to her creator.

“I guess that’s OK,” Miss Piggy said to Mayor Bloomberg at Tuesday’s announcement of the expansion. “He certainly does deserve it.”

The family of the late Jim Henson — the artist and puppeteer behind the Muppets, Sesame Street and other iconic children’s programs — donated nearly 400 puppets, costumes, props, clips and storyboards to the museum, which in turn will build a 2,200-square-foot gallery on its second floor devoted to the memorabilia.

More than half ($2.75 million) of the project’s $5 million price tag comes from the city, Bloomberg 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 the inspiration provided by the vibrant neighborhoods and characters that make our city so extraordinary,” Bloomberg said.

Artifacts from every major film and television production in which Henson played a key creative role during his lifetime — from “Sam and Friends” to “Fraggle Rock” and “Labyrinth” — will be shown in the new exhibit. This includes 200 puppets such as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Elmo, Ernie, Bert, Count von Count, Gobo Fraggle, the Swedish Chef, and Statler and Waldorf.

And these puppets are not new to the neighborhood. The five-year national tour of the traveling “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” concluded at the museum in 2012.

Also, the Jim Henson Workshop, where new muppets are created, is located in the neighborhood where Astoria meets Long Island City, just a few block from Kaufman Astoria Studios, where Henson’s successors film Sesame Street.

But the neighborhood didn’t always look like it does now. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) remembers riding down the once-desolate 35th Avenue as a kid, where the Museum of the Moving Image now is located.

“Because of the arts ... we now have a thriving and bustling avenue,” Van Bramer said.

On Tuesday Bloomberg also made the point that museums create a $28 million industry for the city, which about 52 million tourists visited last year.

The gallery is planned to open in December 2014.

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