In Memoriam: Jane Nebel Henson, 1934-2013

Jane Henson died on April 2, 2013, after a long illness. In today's post, we remember her accomplishments and contributions to this museum. 

Kermit the Frog is wearing a black armband in honor of the memory of Mrs. Henson. He is on display in "American Stories" on the museum's second floor.
Kermit is wearing a black armband in honor of the memory of Jane Nebel Henson. He is on display in "American Stories" on the museum's second floor.

Jane Nebel met Jim Henson in the mid-1950s in a puppetry class when they were students at the University of Maryland. While still undergraduates, they teamed as performers, puppet designers, and puppet builders, eventually developing a group of oddball characters called the Muppets.

The Muppets made their broadcast debut in 1955 on a five-minute program called Sam and Friends, seen in Washington, D.C., on local NBC affiliate WRC-TV. They went on to become an international phenomenon on stage, on TV, and in motion pictures, winning acclaim for their zany sense of humor, a reflection of their creators' perspectives.

Jim and Jane married in 1959 and had five children: Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, John, and Heather. As the Jim Henson organization prospered, Jane was actively involved with a number of Muppet projects, including traveling exhibits and stage shows. In 1992, two years after Jim's death, she founded the Jim Henson Legacy to preserve her husband's work and to promote the art of puppetry.

Jane Henson died on April 2, 2013, after a long illness. She was a generous donor to the collections at this museum. Among her contributions are some of the original Muppets, including the first Kermit the Frog. At a 2010 donation ceremony at the Museum, she remarked how glad she was to have the Muppets back in Washington, D.C., where they first appeared: "Now they get to greet old friends and meet new ones."

Posted at 11:25 am EDT in From the Collections,Women's History