Friday Mr. Sally J and I pulled our kindergartener out of school and went on a road trip. We took the family to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry for the day, and it didn’t disappoint.
As luck would have it, we caught one of the last days of the Jim Henson’s Fantastic World exhibit, and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t know how my kids felt about it, but it was the highlight of my day. The exhibit displayed a good representation of Henson’s life’s work — from the early years all the way through to Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal. No photography was allowed in the exhibit, but many Muppets, including Rolf, Bert and Ernie were on display in glass cases. Miss Piggy in her wedding dress, along with the Piggy/Kermit cake topper was also on display.
Walking around the exhibit, I noticed adult after adult smiling, laughing and sharing with their children their favorite part of the Henson legacy. The Muppets got their big break when they signed on with Sesame Street in the late 1960s. You’d be hard pressed to find a Gen Xer who wasn’t familiar with Sesame Street or the Muppet Show. If you were a kid in the late 70’s, you were watching the Muppet Show with your parents each week.
According to my parents and other adults their age, they enjoyed watching the Muppet Show. Not tolerated, but enjoyed. It was a variety show that featured the best talent of the day, including Phyllis Diller, Elton John and so many more.
My nostalgia got me thinking– what will the TV show be of my children’s generation? There are so many more choices, the idea of a universal character everyone knows is almost nonexistent.And finding a character or show that parents also want to watch? I can’ think of one that my children enjoy that I really want to watch with them (I hear Phineas & Ferb may fit this bill, but we don’t have cable).
I have always admired Jim Henson’s work, but this exhibit sealed the deal. The magic of the Muppets is something that I’m glad I came of age with, and I hope that at some point my children learn to enjoy that magic too (mostly, Friday, they ran around the exhibit, Mr. Sally J and I tag teamed so we each had time to explore the exhibit).