New exhibit celebrates the life and work of Jim Henson

In a 1979 interview with "60 Minutes," Jim Henson, along with his iconic Kermit the Frog puppet, said, "Kermit is more outgoing than I am, certainly. I'm more laid back." To which Kermit replied, "I can say things that he can't."

But before "The Muppet Show" and "Sesame Street" changed American culture, Henson was just a young puppeteer and experimental filmmaker.  

Now, the full story of the late Muppet master's nearly 40-year career is being told at a new exhibit in the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. The exhibit was made possible by a donation from Henson's family and help from his many fans.  

"We really wanted to tell sort of a comprehensive story about Jim Henson's creative journey when he started working in television as a teenager, really, in 1955. Just this sort of constant reaching for something new," said the museum's curator, Barbara Miller.

The permanent exhibit, unveiled this week, features more than 300 artifacts, many of them donated by Henson's family, including 47 puppets.

Henson's most beloved puppets, like Kermit the Frog and Big Bird, will reside in the exhibit as well as lesser known characters like Yorick, a puppet he used just a few times on a 1950s TV show. 

Visitors can also use an interactive display to understand what it's like to operate a Muppet on a TV camera.


Some of the puppets that make up the collection at the Jim Henson exhibit. 

CBS News

Longtime Muppets fans also played an important role in building the exhibit.  More than 2,000 people contributed to a Kickstarter fund to make it all possible.

"There's no community that I know of, that is -- that has stronger feelings than the community out there [than] Jim Henson fans. They feel such a connection to his work. It was really an amazing experience to sort of feel all that commitment from that fan base and have them be part of it," Miller said.