The original Kermit the Frog arrived at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History (NMAH) yesterday. Kermit made his television debut in 1955 as part of a local Washington D.C. television show created by Jim Henson called “Sam and Friends.” Henson’s widow, Jane Henson, donated the original Kermit along with the other puppets from the show. The original Kermit isn’t as green as younger Muppet fans may remember and was fashioned by Henson using his mother’s discarded winter coat. The collection will go on exhibit sometime in November.
Affiliates across the nation have collaborated with the Smithsonian to showcase Jim Henson’s characters, whether through a SITES exhibition or through individual artifact loans. Here are some highlights of Muppet sightings in Affiliate-land:
Orange County Regional History Center (Orlando, Florida) hosted the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) exhibition Jim Henson’s Fantastic World in 2009. The exhibition wraps-up its national tour at Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences (Peoria, Illinois) in 2011.
The Kermit the Frog that is already in NMAH’s collection was first loaned in 1979, in celebration of Sesame Street’s 10th anniversary. In 1994, Jim Henson Productions designated Kermit as a gift, making him a permanent fixture in NMAH’s performance collections. In 2005, NMAH loaned him to The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (Dubuque, Iowa) to be included in their exhibition Toadally Frogs!
Oscar the Grouch and five additional puppets, also on loan from NMAH, made an appearance at Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts (Flushing, New York) in 2006 in their exhibition With or Without Strings.
Through the Affiliations network, communities across the country have had the opportunity to experience Jim Henson’s lovable characters in their neighborhoods. You can read more about Kermit’s new home at NMAH here: