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Find a treasure that correlates with the current family show. Take a tour of the interactive museum, Puppets: The Power of Wonder, which includes puppets from various time periods and countries from around the globe. Be delighted and educated by the 350 puppets on display, including Chinese hand puppets, Indonesian shadow puppets and African rod puppets, as well as American puppets like the Skeksis and Fishface from Jim Henson’s fantasy productions, Dark Crystal and The Labyrinth, and “Pigs in Space” from The Muppet Show.

Take a virtual tour of the Museum below!

Trashcan Phoenix | The Puppet Storeroom | Theater Area
Animation & Imagination | The Sacred & The Profane | Adults Only | The Puppet Arcade | Strange & Beautiful Objects | Discovery Boxes | Exit Gate

Trashcan Phoenix

As visitors enter the exhibit, a trashcan rises into a nine-foot Phoenix (the symbol of Atlanta) to introduce them to the wonder and power of puppetry as an art form. The Trash Can Phoenix was designed by animatronics artist Michael Curry, who has worked to animate several figures for Walt Disney World, as well as Broadway's Lion King.

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The Puppet Storeroom

This area replicates a puppet storage room, where performance puppets are found covering walls, ceilings and floor. Eleven puppets in the storeroom move periodically (electronically) to demonstrate a basic element of puppetry - the animation of inanimate objects.

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Theater Area

A video of the late Jim Henson interviewing six of his favorite puppeteers from around the world provides an overview and frame of reference for visitors.

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Animation & Imagination

The concepts of animation and imagination in the art of puppetry are explored using interactive exhibits. Puppet styles range from very abstract to detailed realism.

Ballerina | Trixie La Brique | Mechanical Bird | Scarf Puppet | Male and Female Clown | Wilbur | J.ot | Zhang Fei


This Ballerina is the creation of Mollie Falkenstein of the United States (c. 1950). She is a combination finger and string puppet; the legs are actually the puppeteer's index and middle fingers, while the arms are manipulated by strings. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James B. Falkenstein.

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Trixie La Brique

Trixie La Brique (c. 1981) was a trapeze artist in The Brick Brothers Circus, a production of The Puppetmongers Powell of Toronto, Canada. In this show, brother and sister David and Ann Powell were the ringmasters and their brick acrobats performed such feats as diving into a paper cup and walking the high wire above a wheelbarrow stage. Gift of Ann and David Powell.

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Mechanical Bird

The Mechanical Bird was built by American Janie Geiser in 1983. It was a character in The Glass Dream, a production of Geiser's Jottay Theatre from a story by Kay Hagan. The Bird is a rod puppet made with sequins, beads, mirror shards and wire mesh for the wings. Gift of Janie Geiser.

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Scarf Puppet

This Scarf Puppet (c. 1980) was made for Albrecht Roser (Stuttgart, Germany) by Margarete Kirn. Roser requires students to build such puppets to teach them marionette fundamentals: balance of weights, relationship of the stringing to the performer, relationship of the puppet to its controls, and the "Three Point Law" (the control of any puppet with just three strings). Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Male and Female Clown

This Male and Female Clown were created by Donald Cordry (c. 1951-52, United States). They are cloth and wood and are about 2 feet tall. Mr. Cordry and his wife Dorothy emigrated to Mexico in the 1930s, and there he established himself as a craft designer. Gift of Mrs. Donald Cordry.

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Wilbur (1951) is the signature character of George Latshaw, a famous American puppeteer. Wilbur first appeared in The Wizard of the Well at the Puppeteers of America Festival in Baton Rouge in 1952, but is best known for Wilbur and the Giant. Gift of George Latshaw.

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J.ot (c. 1981, United States) narrated the story of Little Eddie, a boy who would be king. This black comedy, produced by Janie Geiser's Jottay Theatre, used hand and rod puppets and sound effects produced with toy instruments. On loan from Janie Geiser.

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Zhang Fei

Zhang Fei - A Military Commander (c. 20th-century China) is a "painted face" Cantonese rod puppet. His two beards (one black, one gray) indicate age. His hands are carved with peg-holes in them to allow him to hold weapons. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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The Sacred & The Profane

In this room, the ancient art of shadow puppetry is featured in a re-creation of a shadow puppet theater of Indonesia, including a video presentation on a traditional shadow puppet screen. The room also explores the usage of puppets as sacred objects to be revered, and profane objects, which exhibit irreverence or satire.

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Antelope | Wayang Klitik Lady | Male Figure | Kono | Bhima | The Bound Man | Arjuna | Coquelin Cadet | Aragouz


Antelope rod puppet (c. 1982) from the Bamana / Bozo people of Mali, Africa, was used in productions of a men's youth association. These shows occur twice a year and can last up to five hours. Antelopes are prominent bush animals in Mali and appear frequently as characters in these shows. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Wayang Klitik Lady

This flat wooden puppet, a Wayang Klitik Lady, is from a more secular form of Indonesian puppetry and is normally performed in daylight. Gift of Merna Alpert.

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Male Figure

This Male Figure (c. 1975) is an articulated figure created by the Ibo tribe of Nigeria. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Kono (c. 1975), or Bird, is a rod puppet from Mali, Africa. It is a depiction of the horned bill, whose migration into the Segou Region each year signals the rains, which are important both to farmers and to fishermen. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Bhima (c. 1975) is a five-foot-tall shadow puppet made from goatskin. He is from Andhra Pradesh, India, and is one of the five Pandava brothers from the Hindu epic The Mahabharata. Shadow puppetry is often the vehicle for religious tales in India. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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The Bound Man

The Bound Man (1989), made by Jon Ludwig (United States) and manipulated by Peter Hart in the show The Bound Man, is a rod puppet. The Bound Man was based on the German short story by Ilse Aichinger. Center for Puppetry Arts Collection.

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Arjuna (20th Century, Indonesia) is a Javanese shadow puppet, an example of wayang kulit. These figures are made from water buffalo hides and are meticulously detailed. Gift of Allelu Kurten.

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Coquelin Cadet


Coquelin Cadet (1910) is a French shadow puppet. Shadow plays in France were called ombres chinoise or "Chinese shadows" because that is where the form was assumed to have come from. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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These hand puppets (1978) are from an Egyptian production of Aragouz by Mohammed Kerim. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Adults Only

Video of performances by Wayland Flowers and Madame (with sound accessible to adults only) exemplifies the use of adult humor in puppetry. Madame herself is also on display, along with three other adult puppets.

Wayland Flowers' Madame (c. 1980, United States) is one of the most famous puppets in our collection. A hand and rod puppet, her bawdy act was a hit in New York, Las Vegas and on television for over 20 years. Gift of Marlena Shell.

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The Puppet Arcade

Xelas is a shapechanger from Northwestern Native American mythology, hence the goat-man.

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Strange & Beautiful Objects

Major objects from the Center's permanent collection are on view. From Jim Henson's "Pigs in Space" to puppets from Africa, China and Asia, this selection provides a historical and cross-cultural perspective of puppets as art objects.

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Warrior on Horse | Musume | Clyde | Queen Elizabeth I | Mad Hatter | Maani | Hyena | Sotigi | Standing Female | Puppet Head of Zhu Bajie | Lantern Carrier

Warrior on Horse

Warrior on Horse (c. 1930) is a shadow puppet from Canton, China. The Chinese regard shadow puppetry as entertainment separate and distinct from three-dimensional forms of puppet theater. Made from translucent pieces of leather intricately cut and beautifully colored, the figures are designed to cast silhouettes rather than shadows. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Musume (c. 1940) is from Awaji, Japan, and is similar to the classical bunraku style of puppetry. The hair and costume styles indicate that this figure is an unmarried teenage girl (musume). The costume design suggests that the figure was used as Osome, the heroine in the play Shinpan Utazaimon (The New Ballad) by Chikamatsu Hanji. Gift of the Caroline Lutz Collection, Westhampton College, University of Richmond.

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Clyde (1951) was a marionette character in Flahooley, a Broadway musical satirizing big business. Bil Baird, Clyde's creator, was one of the most popular and influential American puppeteers of our time. On loan from Jane Henson.

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Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I (1973), a rod puppet, was created and performed by American Bruce D. Schwartz when he was only 16. Gift of Bruce D. Schwartz.

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Mad Hatter

Made by Tony Sarg (United States) for his production of Alice in Wonderland (c. 1920), this Mad Hatter marionette is 27" tall and is made of wood, wood putty and cloth. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Maani (Little Person, Female) (c. 1975); Mali, Africa. Evolving characters, new carving techniques and strong performance traditions help keep this art alive in the Segou Region of Mali. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Hyena (c. 1980); Mali, Africa. This figure was used in puppet masquerades in the Segou Region, mainly in villages along the river system. The hyena is associated with alertness and great protective powers. The beard indicates that it's a male. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Sotigi (The Horseman) (c.1978). Made and used by the Bamana people of Mali, Africa; rod and string puppet. This figure is one of a class of puppets known as maani (little persons). It is used in performances in the Segou Region. It may represent a member of a neighboring ethnic group, the Fulani. Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Standing Female

Standing Female (c. 1975): Ibibio, Nigeria. Performed by the Ekon Society. This puppet epitomizes female beauty. She is young, marriageable, and is presented ceremoniously to the community after seclusion in the "fattening house." Gift of Nancy Lohman Staub.

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Puppet Head of Zhu Bajie

From China, this Puppet Head of Zhu Bajie (the Pig of Eight Abstinences) (Early 20th Century) is from a hand and rod puppet. This pig is a major character in the story Journey to The West. Gift of Caroline Lutz Collection, Westhampton College, University of Richmond.

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Lantern Carrier

Lantern Carrier (early 20th Century); China. This shadow puppet is made from donkey skin. Shadow plays are mostly performed at festivals and religious celebrations. They are often sponsored by a community or temple. Donated by Caroline Lutz Collection, Westhampton College, University of Richmond.

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Skeksis Body puppet from the 1982 movie "The Dark Crystal" by Jim Henson. As many as 3 puppeteers were needed to articulate the fingers, eyes and facial movements from outside of one of these creatures while the main puppeteer performed from inside the Skeksis moving the head, arms and body. The bulk of the puppet was attached to a backpack carried on the main puppeteer's shoulders which kept his hands free to manipulate all these parts. There is no way to see out of the creature once inside so a small television monitor was attached to the backpack. This allowed the puppeteer inside the body to see where he was going.

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Discovery Boxes

Placed throughout the Museum, these bright yellow doors hide more puppets and Museum secrets.

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Exit Gate

A full-body interactive puppet of a Praying Mantis, special lighting and mirror effects transform visitors into human puppets as they exit the Museum. This exhibit was also designed by Michael Curry.

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Center for Puppetry Arts | 1404 Spring St. NW at 18th | Atlanta, GA 30309-2820 USA
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