Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit, Punch & Judy, and Prarie Dawn puppet from Puppetry in America

Puppetry in America

Closed April 13, 2014

Puppetry is one of the oldest types of performance art in America. The earliest traditions were imitations of old world forms brought to this country by immigrants from Italy, France, and Great Britain.  American puppetry is unique. Its many styles and techniques combine ancient and immigrant traditions, homegrown innovations, and the influences of electronic media.

The art of puppetry relies on the harmonious relationship of a puppet, a puppeter’s imaginative manipulation, and an audience whose willing suspension of disbelief allows it to accept the puppet’s actions as “real.”

This special display featured two different sets of objects from the stage and screen that cover over 160 years of American puppetry.

Rotation 1: December 13, 2013 - February 9, 2014

Puppets included a Chinese-inspired shadow puppet from 1850, Punch and Judy hand puppets, a Slugger Ryan rod puppet, finger puppets from entrepeneur Hazelle Hedges Rollins, paper puppets, marionettes such as TV's Howdy Doody, an Edgar Bergen Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist puppet, Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit from Captain Kangaroo, stop-motion puppets from Tubby the Tuba and Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, as well as several puppets (and Muppets) from The Jim Henson Company. 

Puppetry in America cases, rotation 1

Rotation 2: February 12 - April 13, 2014

Puppets included a Chinese-inspired shadow puppet from 1850; Punch and Judy hand puppets; Civil War hand puppets; two Patagonian Pigs marionettes; Ringmaster marionette; Teto the Clown marionette; Bob Campbell, the ventriloquist figure from the "Soap" television show; Bill Baird’s Art Carney marionette; Snap, Krackle and Pop hand puppets; four stop-motion puppets from Corpse Bride film; three stop-action California Raisins puppet; three Howdy Doody finger puppets; Muppets: Bert and Ernie, Scooter, Boober Fraggle, Red Fraggle, Swedish Chef, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.

About the artifact walls

Artifact walls, consisting of 275 linear feet of glass-fronted cases lining the first and second floor center core, highlight the depth and breadth of the collections and convey that the Museum collects, studies and exhibits objects from our nation's rich and diverse history. The display is part of the special cases within the museum’s Artifact Walls that highlight anniversaries, new acquisitions to the collections and research findings.