The long-awaited permanent Jim Henson exhibition is set to open at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, but drama over one of the late puppeteer’s most iconic characters is putting a damper on it. The Jim Henson Exhibition opens Saturday, July 22 at the Queens-based museum, and it will be the museum’s first gallery dedicated to a single artist, according to the Times-Ledger.
The tribute to the Muppets pioneer will feature nearly 300 objects, including 47 of his world famous Muppets, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, The Swedish Chef, Elmo and Big Bird. There will also be rare character sketches on display, as well as storyboards, scripts, and costumes from Henson’s movies and TV shows. Many of the items on display were donated by the Henson family.
The Jim Henson Exhibition will be housed in a new gallery space funded by a fundraising campaign and the City of New York. It will explore Henson’s groundbreaking work for film and TV, showcasing how he and his team brought to life the worlds of The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. But the joy of the exhibition opening is being overshadowed by real-life drama in the Muppets world.
— Moving Image Museum (@MovingImageNYC) June 29, 2017
Jim Henson died unexpectedly of pneumonia in 1990 at the age of 53, and his family was not only tasked with an unspeakable loss, but also the job of finding replacements for some of the characters he voiced. Jim Henson provided the voice of some of his most famous Muppet characters, including Kermit the Frog, Ernie, and Rowlf the Dog. According to the Hollywood Reporter, when Henson died, his family hand picked voice actor Steve Whitmire to take over the role of the beloved Muppet frog, a role Henson had assumed since the character’s creation in 1955.
— TimesLedger (@TimesLedger) July 17, 2017
For nearly 30 years, Whitmore was Kermit the Frog, so many fans were shocked when Disney announced last week that Matt Vogel would replace Whitmire. Whitmire took to his blog to reveal he had been fired by Disney in October, and the longtime puppeteer wrote that he was “devastated to have failed in my duty to my hero [Henson].” Muppet Studios’ latest statement on the subject reveals that the termination was due to “Steve’s repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years.”
Steve Whitmire took over as the voice of Jim Henson's most iconic creation after the originator's death in 1990 https://t.co/G7xwqoaVNz
— Salon (@Salon) July 14, 2017
Sadly, this whole Muppets mess has taken from the happy news that the permanent Jim Henson Exhibition, more than five years in the making, is finally happening. Muppets fans are sad that the Kermit controversy has tainted the long-awaited tribute to Henson.
I want to be cheering for the new Jim Henson exhibit opening this weekend but all this news is making me sad.
— Stelle (@happyplaceblog) July 17, 2017
@Disney Nice job teaching the family value of "loyalty" to the kids. Kermit deserved better and Jim Henson would not approve of you today!
— Craig Hebert (@templars83) July 14, 2017
LIKE REALLY?! Y'ALL CAN'T EVEN LET US HAVE KERMIT?! THE JIM HENSON APPOINTED KERMIT?!
— Gurl Haggard (@GurlHaggard) July 14, 2017
Firing Steve Whitmire from performing Kermit – a role he's had for nearly 3 decades following Jim Henson's death – is cruel and offensive.
— Amanda Hocking ???? (@amanda_hocking) July 13, 2017
Calling out @Disney for firing Steve Whitmire, who has voiced Kermit the Frog since Jim Henson's passing in 1990. Soul-less corporation.
— Kyle Rodgers (@MrKyleAR) July 14, 2017
WHAT?!!!!! Why?!!!! When?!!!! How?!!!!! Why must this happen just before the Jim Henson Exhibit?!!!!
— Mia T. Toon (@MiaToon12) July 10, 2017
For more on the Jim Henson Exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image, see the view below.
[Featured Image Michael Tweed/AP Images]