Sunday, May 18, 2008

Museum, Muppets and Metal, Oh My!

Saturday we took Anne to the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum (LASM) to see a special exhibit on Jim Henson, called Jim Henson's Fantastic World. This exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service, so you know it has to be good.

The exhibit showed Anne a first-hand glimpse at Jim Henson's creative process. A couple of Muppets were on display, such as Kermit, Bert and Ernie, Rowlf, the King of Eight, etc, but what made the exhibit so interesting was all of the drawings that Henson had made that outlined how to create a new Muppet as well as how to stage a new skit. The exhibit did not only focus on the Muppets and Sesame Street, but also showed drawings and videos from The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Fraggle Rock.

Some interesting things I learned was that Oscar the Grouch was orange in the first season of Sesame Street, but Henson didn't like the color so they made him green. I also learned that Cookie Monster is based on another character called a Wheel-Stealer (which went through other evolutions, like becoming a Computer Monster) that Henson first made for a commercial.

While walking down a hallway to get to the elevator (because the Henson exhibit is on multiple floors and Anne hasn't mastered the stairs yet), I noticed that I was surrounded by horses, tigers and dragons made out of scrap metal. It was awesome! I started inspecting these pieces closer and it looked like everything was made out of chains, saws, horseshoes and other scraps of metal.

[Picture: Han Horse Head by Richard Swenson]
Han Horse Head by Richard Swenson

The artist is Richard Swenson, and he is a retired scientists who used to restore John Deere tractors, then started creating insects and small animals out of the leftover scrap metal. As people showed interest in his work he started working on bigger projects. Richard Swenson doesn't sell his work, but if he did then I would have a huge metal dragon protecting my house from zombies.

Both Jim Henson's Fantastic World and Richard Swenson's Scrap Metal Sculptures will be at the LASM thru June 22.

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