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Puppets From AVENUE Q, SESAME STREET, THE LION KING, and More Will Be Featured in New Exhibition 'Puppets of New York'

A roster of puppet shows, performances, film screenings, and programs will accompany the exhibition

Puppets From AVENUE Q, SESAME STREET, THE LION KING, and More Will Be Featured in New Exhibition 'Puppets of New York'

The Museum of the City of New York will launch a new exhibition, Puppets of New York, examining how puppetry has impacted New York City and the influence the city has had on this artform all over the world.

Opening on August 13, 2021, the exhibition features more than 100 puppets spanning New York City history, from theater, television, and street life, including Lamb Chop, Sesame Street, Avenue Q and Lion King on Broadway, avantgarde theater, parades, and more. Puppets of New York is also part of the partner programming for the International Puppet Fringe Festival (August 11-16, 2021), and is complemented by a companion exhibition downtown at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center.

"New York City is a global capital of puppetry, where diverse communities and traditions intersect and collaborate, and where new innovations to the art form are born," said Whitney Donhauser, Ronay Menschel Director and President of the Museum of the City of New York. "Our exhibition showcases the long history of puppetry in New York City and the influence of the city on this whimsical and adventurous art form."

Puppets of New York covers three themes that emphasize the ubiquity of puppets in urban space-The Stage, The Set, and The Street-and shows the power of puppetry to reveal culture, politics, and art. The history of puppetry in New York is a powerful lens not only into rich cultural traditions and creative stagecraft, but into the dynamics of the multiple communities that have made New York New York.

  • The Stage examines how puppets became ingrained in the city's theater industry, from the Modicut Yiddish Theater of the 1920s, to the masterworks of Tony Sarg and Bill Baird, and Broadway productions such as Avenue Q and The Lion King.
  • The Set surveys the role puppets have played within New York City's media industry and the role of New York television in broadcasting the art of puppetry to a global audience. Featured puppeteers include Shari Lewis and Jim Henson.
  • The Street deals with puppets in the city's street and community life. Examples include Chinatown's Lunar New Year celebrations, puppets from Halloween Day Parade, and the political work of Bread and Puppet Theater.

"Puppets are not just child's play. They often reflect the cultural changes, diverse communities, and political events that impact urban life," said Monxo López, the exhibition's curator and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum. "Immigrants from around the globe turned New York into a mosaic of puppetry traditions that both mirror their places of origin and blend with one another."

Highlighted puppets on display include:

  • Lamb Chop puppet, shown for the first time ever in a museum
  • Duke Ellington puppet
  • Howdy Doody
  • Lion King on Broadway
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Albert Einstein puppet
  • Oscar the Grouch
  • Avenue Q puppets

An exciting roster of puppet shows, performances, film screenings, and programs will accompany the exhibition. The Museum will also offer hands-on activities for children, teachers, and families bringing New York's dynamic puppetry traditions to life.

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