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The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited

June 1–September 2, 2018

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
FREE on-site parking;

Tuesday–Friday, 12:00–5:00 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays and holidays

$12 General
$9 Seniors (65 and up), Full-Time Students with ID, and Children over 12
$7 Children 2–12
FREE to Skirball Members and Children under 2
FREE to all on Thursdays
CLOSED on July 4th

About the Exhibition

Immerse yourself in the imaginative world of Jim Henson (1936–1990) and discover his groundbreaking approach to puppetry and transformative impact on contemporary culture.

Featuring more than 100 objects and twenty-five historic puppets—including Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, Ernie and Bert, Grover, and other popular favorites—The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited illuminates Henson’s unique contributions to the moving image. Along with a talented team of designers, performers, and writers, Henson created an unparalleled body of work that continues to delight and inspire people of all ages to create a kinder and gentler world.

Explore Henson’s enduringly popular productions—from The Muppet Show, the Muppet movies, and Sesame Street to Fraggle RockThe Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth—through character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, costumes, film and television clips, and behind-the-scenes footage. Then design your own puppet and try your hand at puppeteering in this highly interactive exhibition.




DREAMING THE UNIVERSE  -- March 3rd - September 2nd
by Nick Smith

     It’s been a crazy month, since the museum exhibit that I’ve been working on finally opened on March 3rd. It even has a game connection, because we’re displaying the Interplanetary game board that was made in the 1940s. The game was never sold commercially, but a few were made for use within fandom.
     It is my understanding that the game was loosely based on the E. E. “Doc” Smith story’s version of physics, and tries to reproduce how orbital mechanics really work, vaguely, sort of. The problem for modern gamers is that the game is really quite long, several hours at least. Since the advent of Euro-style board games, anything over a couple of hours is considered unusually long, so Interplanetary is that and more.
     Anyway, the exhibit is called Dreaming the Universe, and it’s at the Pasadena Museum of History from now until the start of September. So, if you’re in the Los Angeles area, or will be during that time, I hope you can see the exhibit. I’m very pleased with how most of it came out, even if there were a few crazy-making moments.
     The idea of the exhibit is to get people thinking about the interactions between science and science fiction, and the visual stuff is primarily at the museum. We have design art, costumes, book and magazine original art, fannish art and other visual stuff. We also have things about some of the writers, there and in a spinoff exhibit at the Pasadena Public Library.
     There are things which just can’t be done in a museum exhibit, though, so there is a whole separate online section. The first blog for that is up now, about the 200th anniversary of the Frankenstein story, which is this year. Others will follow, and expand on some of the stories from the exhibit.
      Some of the stuff in the exhibit came from the archives of major organizations, ranging from NBC/Universal to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to LASFS. Some of the things from private collections hadn’t been shown in years, and Wendy Pini was very surprised to find out that we had one of her early pieces in the exhibit, back from the early 1970s. She was a teenaged artist who had been asked to do the cover art for the Worldcon program book, and she didn’t know that piece had survived in good condition.
       The Academy is planning their own museum, which is getting closer to actually happening and that kept us from borrowing a couple of pieces, but the things they did loan us were from things like War of the Worlds and Forbidden Planet, as well as the old Warner Brothers cartoons. We got design art and storyboards, as well as costume designs.
My personal favorites were some cover art that we borrowed from the Korshak collection. Those pieces were by Kelly Freas, Ed Emshwiller and Hannes Bok. Of those three, fewer are familiar with Emsh and Bok, but they were brilliant artists. Bok was one of the fans who hung out with Ray Bradbury and Forry Ackerman in the 1930s, and he turned pro soon after that, but kept drawing things for fan publications when he could. He painted the cover for an issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction that grabbed my attention as a kid, and got me to buy a new SF magazine issue for the first time. Sadly, that turned out to be his last color illustration. He died the next year, only 50 years old.
The elder Mr. Korshak was a book publisher, running Fantasy Press in the 1950s, and for whatever reason he acquired quite a bit of cover art for things he did NOT publish. His son curates this collection and loans pieces to museum exhibits. Secure shipping was expensive but worthwhile.
     The other piece that was hard to get to the exhibit was a door.
     The LASFS clubhouse from the 1980s and 1990s had a room where fanzines were worked on, and at one point a fannish artist decided to decorate the door with a cool painting of a rocket being launched. Then, when LASFS sold that building, the door was removed, and donated to the Eaton Collection at the University of California, Riverside. Weirdly, that made the door into a donated piece of 3-dimensional art, which is something else entirely. Thus, it had to be specially transported and insured, to make sure that the loan, with LASFS approval, didn’t cause irreparable damage to this now highly-valued art object.
      No, really.

Lee Gold Comment:  I queried Nick Smith about the blog(s) associated with Dreaming the Universe.  He told me that one about Frankenstein is https://pasadenahistory.org/science-fiction-in-southern-california/frankenstein/ .  Others may be found at https://pasadenahistory.org/blog/



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