Travelling Matt Puppet

Travelling Matt Puppet

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Description (Brief)

Uncle Travelling Matt is a hand-rod puppet performed by Dave Goelz on the television show Fraggle Rock. In a hand-rod puppet, like Travelling Matt, the performer’s dominant hand goes into the puppet’s head and operates the mouth and sometimes other facial features. The less dominant hand controls the arm rods, which are thin rods connected to the puppet’s hands. In the first episode of Fraggle Rock, Travelling Matt finds a second entrance in to Fraggle Rock which is a hole that leads to the workshop of Doc, a human character. Matt goes through this hole into the human world and what he considers “Outer Space.” Reminiscent of a 19th century anthropologist, Travelling Matt observes common objects in “Outer Space” and makes mostly wrong observations about how the human world works. He shares these observations in postcards that he sends back to his nephew Gobo in Fraggle Rock.

Fraggle Rock is a children’s television program created by Jim Henson that aired for five seasons on HBO from 1983 to 1987. Henson created the Fraggle world as one where different types of creatures lived together in a world where they were interconnected and important to one another. From the beginning, the show was designed to be easily adaptable to different cultures, which generally led to each country having its own human character, such as Doc in the American version, with the same Fraggle scenes dubbed in local languages. Travelling Matt was different in each country where the show aired. For example, he is known as Matt le Voyageur in France, and he traveled in Francophone regions such as France, Belgium, and Switzerland viewing the Eiffel Tower and watching wine-making. In Germany he is known as Onkel Reisende Matt, and he skied in the Austrian Alps and investigated yodeling.

In television and film, a “traveling matte” is a technique used to put a foreground object into a background image that has been pre-recorded. The character’s name “Travelling Matt” is a play on this technique.”

Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
puppet
date made
1982
performer
Goelz, Dave
maker
Henson, Jim
Physical Description
fabric (overall material)
felt (overall material)
foam (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 23 in x 14 in x 13 in; 58.42 cm x 35.56 cm x 33.02 cm
ID Number
2013.0101.17
accession number
2013.0101
catalog number
2013.0101.17
Credit Line
Gift of the Family of Jim Henson: Lisa Henson, Cheryl Henson, Brian Henson, John Henson and Heather Henson
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Entertainment
Jim Henson
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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