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The Center for Puppetry Arts Museum opened in 1978 with a loan of 150 puppets by noted puppetry collector and expert Nancy Lohman Staub (who later donated them to the Center). Since then, the collection has grown to include more than 2,000 puppets and 1,000 posters of historical and cultural significance. The Collection also includes the holdings of the Nancy Lohman Staub Puppetry Research Library, which contains over 1,500 books and 1,000 videotapes, as well as photographs, clippings and periodicals documenting puppetry throughout the world.

The Museum's goal is to present the history of puppetry in various cultures and to demonstrate the impact of the art form as a teaching, healing and communication tool. Virtually every culture in the world has some form of puppetry. The Museum is meant to be an introduction for the American public to the diversity and universality of the art of puppetry, and thus the humanity behind it.

Puppetry has long served as a vehicle for culture by: relating a people's history; teaching moral and/or religious lessons; and documenting the life, work and play of the common man. Many of the pieces in The Collection fall into one or more of these categories, further exemplifying puppetry's place as a significant transmitter of culture.

In addition to collecting puppets from around the globe, the Museum also collects examples of the four main categories of puppets: shadow, rod, hand and marionette (or string). Hybrid puppets, such as hand puppets that also have rods, are also included.

Exhibitions of puppets are considered essential to enhance understanding and appreciation of performances. In addition to the permanent Museum, Puppets: The Power of Wonder, The Center also hosts Special Exhibits that explore a particular theme, artist or culture. Those special exhibits are displayed in the Special Exhibit Gallery, The Love Family Atrium, and throughout the Center.

The Center's Museum has been the beneficiary of many puppetry collections, including the Caroline Lutz Collection at the University of Richmond and the Ilhan Basgöz Collection of Turkish puppets at the University of Indiana. Other puppets have been donated by individual artists, companies and puppetry dealers. Jane Henson and Jim Henson Productions have contributed several Muppets and been generous supporters of the Museum. Ruth and Don Gilpin, whose show Woody Willow & Friends was the first children's television show in Atlanta, entrusted many of their puppets to the Center. (They are now on display at the WSB-TV studios in Atlanta, the station where the show originally aired.)

Click here for an essay on the Center's collection by founder Nancy Lohman Staub.

Staub, Nancy Lohman. “The Center for Puppetry Arts Museum Collection.” Ed. Phylis T. Dircks, American Puppetry: Collections, History, and Performance. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Inc., 2004: 73 – 87.

Donations to The Collection

The Center for Puppetry Arts Museum generally accepts donations of puppets only if it intends to accession them into its collections. The Museum must be very selective out of necessity to ensure that objects acquired are appropriate to The Collection's mission statement and can be properly cared for and displayed. A sub-committee formed from our Museum Advisory board will be the deciding factor in accepting Museum pieces. Fractional interest in an object, whereby the donor retains a percentage of ownership, is not acceptable. Both the donor and an authorized representative of the Center must sign a deed of gift for transferring full ownership of the item(s) to the Center. There are numerous considerations for both donors and the museum in arranging a gift. All inquiries regarding gifts to Center for Puppetry Arts are completely confidential. For further information about donating gifts or bequests of objects, please contact the Curator of Exhibits at 404.881.5128.

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Kelsey Fritz
Phone: 404.881.5130
Fax: 404.873.9907