February 8, 2012

Field Trip - Jim Henson's Fantastic World at the Museum of the Moving Image

Today I'm going to kick off a new series of posts called "Field Trip"! Those two words bring such good memories to mind... permission slips, 18 passenger vans, and a whole day away from the classroom. Since we don't get to take field trips as adults, I love spending at least one day of the weekend running around New York City with Johnny and acting like we're in 3rd grade again. I'd like to share some of those adventures with you!

A few weekends ago, we made the trek to Astoria, Queens (really only an easy subway ride away from Manhattan. Well, easy except for the fact that someone had peed in the corner of our subway car. A delight for the nostrils!). Our destination was the Museum of the Moving Image and I didn't really know what to expect other than lots of Muppet-y goodness. They have an exhibit running through March 4th called "Jim Henson's Fantastic World" and being the Henson-philes that we are, we knew we couldn't miss this.

I have to say, this museum is FRICKIN' AWESOME! After paying admission and checking our coats, we booked it to the top floor to see what we came for. At the top of the stairs an old friend greeted us... 

Kermit the Frog here! Live and in person. We almost fainted! This guy is bigger than any celebrity in our eyes. He's so wise and kind and tiny and green and just a few notes of "The Rainbow Connection" brings both of us to tears. According to one of the video exhibits, Kermit was Henson's first puppet. He used a sock and some wire and spent hours practicing to get just the right facial expressions for Kermit using only his hand. So awesome that his very first character is still going strong! 
Aside from the videos, I had fun browsing the sketches of Henson's early ideas and seeing how they developed over time.  

The next room graced us with Rowlf! One of my very favorite Muppets. He is just the epitome of cool, right? Never flummoxed, always content to play his piano. A video in this room showed that Rowlf originated in a commercial that Henson did for Purina Dog Chow. Henson created puppets for a number of commercials throughout his career and some of them were hysterical! 

If commercials were still that cool, maybe I could give the "fast forward" function on my DVR a break.  

"Mahna Mahna - Doo doo doo doo doo! Mahna Mahna - Doo doo doo doo!" Talk about an earworm. That song will be in your head for daaaays now and you'll like it! Did you see the new Muppets movie with Jason Segal yet? If not, I highly recommend it. Like seriously, just go see it now and then come back. I'll wait...

Are you back? Wasn't it awesome?!?! One of my favorite parts is when everyone sings "Mahna Mahna" at the end. Maybe I'll post a petition on change.org to make it our new National Anthem. 

I somehow forgot that Henson did so much more than just The Muppet Show. In fact, Fraggle Rock was my very favorite show as a tot. Do you remember the old HBO promo that came on before every episode? I would get so excited as the TV screen swirled around the inside of the HBO logo because I knew that Fraggles were near! "Dance you cares away (clap clap), worry's for another day! Let the music play (clap clap) down in Fraggle Rock!" Sheer genius! It was pretty neat to see Gobo and Cantus in real life, though Red was always my bestie.

I loved seeing so many little kids at the exhibit discovering some of Jim Henson's creations for the first time. And there were many 30 somethings reliving their youths, just like us. I was very inspired to see how Henson started with just a simple idea, but he had the determination to bring all his visions to fruition. What a badass.

Creepy old make-up. Now with extra formaldehyde! 
We then explored the rest of the museum and we were completely taken aback by how cool it is! There is a permanent exhibit called "Behind the Screen" that is devoted to the technical side of movies: a collection of vintage movie cameras, sound recording equipment, make-up, wigs and costumes. 

Rwaaaaarrr! Rarrwaaaarrr!
There was also a booth where you could go and dub your voice over a scene from a movie (we found out that Johnny is terrible at voice acting!). My favorite installation was "Tut's Fever", a "working movie theater that pays homage to the ornate, exotic picture palaces of the 1920s." There is a ticket booth, concession stand, screening room, and secret passageways.

That, sir, is a Cosby sweater! A COOOOSBY SWEATER! (And Annie Hall's costume)
In summation, I know the "Sh*t New Yorkers Say" video proclaims that "No one goes to Queens", but if you live in the area you must make an exception and get over to this museum a.s.a.p. I promise you'll have a sensational inspirational celebrational Muppetational good time! (Honk)

1 comment:

  1. Bear's aunt Mari, of Miss Piggy fame, was telling me about an amazing traveling show she helped set up for The Muppets back in the early 80s which was very similar to this. What fun! Wish they had cool stuff like that here..