Exhibits That Allow Us to Explore Our Youth
Whether a child or adult, we all have (or should have) a playful, inquisitive side. Children naturally explore this aspect of themselves, while older folks sometimes neglect to, much to their own detriment. Some forms of art bring out the kid in all of us, as demonstrated by this month’s museum highlights. Whether an extensive retrospective of the man behind The Muppets, a celebration of a renowned literary mischief-maker, or a poignant collection of children’s portraits by American art students, these shows all put us in a youthful mindset, which is never a bad thing.
The Jim Henson Exhibition at Museum of the Moving Image
Several years in the making, “The Jim Henson Exhibition” at MoMI is everything fans of the late artist and puppeteer could want in a retrospective. The show includes 300 objects—including 47 puppets—culled from
the vast archive that Henson’s family donated to the museum. Also on view are sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, costumes, film and television clips, and behind-the-scenes footage. Naturally, much of the show is devoted to “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show,” with Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Rowlf, among other puppets, all in attendance.
An interactive station features a blue “anything muppet,” onto which visitors can affix eyes, noses, wigs and facial hair. Also explored are other facets of Henson’s illustrious career, including his playful 1950s Wilkins Coffee commercials, peace-and-love documentaries and psychedelic nightclub designs from the 1960s, plus his 1980s films “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth.” A fitting tribute to a groundbreaking artist.
(Ongoing, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria)
Eloise at the Museum at The New-York Historical Society
One of New York’s most beloved literary characters is the subject of a show at the New-York Historical Society. Eloise, the precocious, mischievous latchkey kid created by the late actress/singer/composer Kay Thompson and illustrator Hilary Knight starred in a series of books published in the late 1950s, becoming a huge sensation among both kids and adults.
For many years Knight’s portrait of his famous creation hung in her fictional home, the Plaza Hotel,
until it was stolen in 1960 and later found severely damaged. Having undergone extensive restoration, the painting—which hasn’t been seen in 57 years—is the exhibition’s centerpiece. Also on view are manuscript pages, sketchbooks, dolls, and unpublished illustrations from “Eloise in Paris,” among other memorabilia. The long-lost world of Kay and Knight’s aristocratic heroine is evoked via partial recreations of the Plaza’s
grand lobby, Eloise’s bedroom, and her infamous “bawthroom.”
(Through 10/9, 170 Central Park West at 77th Street)
Children of Syria: The Memory Project at the Brooklyn Children’s MuseumThe Memory Project is a nonprofit that invites art teachers and their students to create portraits of children and teens around the world who have faced neglect, abuse, violence, and extreme poverty, among other challenges. Photos collected from global charities that operate homes, schools and care centers are then used as the basis for beautiful, poignant portraits created by American students, which are then hand-delivered to their (delighted) subjects.
Currently on view at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is a selection of photographed portraits of Syrian refugee children created by American high school art students, detailed replicas of the latter group’s colorful and imaginative original paintings. For the young artists, the project is an opportunity to practice kindness and global awareness; for their grateful subjects, each artwork is a piece of personal history and a reminder that they are valued and appreciated. (Through 9/24, 145 Brooklyn Avenue)