OKLAHOMA CITY - The American Banjo Museum is bringing a beloved amphibian to OKC for Jim Henson – Life and Legacy, an exhibit honoring the late creator.
Heather Henson, Jim's daughter, will be in Oklahoma City for the ribbon cutting of the exhibit at the American Banjo Museum at noon on September 8.
"Opening in early September, Jim Henson – Life and Legacy fondly remembers the optimistic visionary who created the Muppets and positively influenced generations of the young and young at heart. From his boyhood in Mississippi to innovative early television to omnipresence in generation shaping media, Jim Henson lived his mission of “leaving this world a little bit better place for having been here," said the museum in a statement.
You might be wondering about the connection between the Muppets creator and the American Banjo Museum.
The Muppet Show often showcased the musicality of the banjo through guests, such as Roy Clark and Steve Martin, and through Kermit the Frog.
Kermit started playing banjo on Henson's original show Sam and Friends.
He continued plucking away on The Muppet Show, but this isn't what stands out to the curators of the American Banjo Museum.
"It is, however, those magical three minutes and twenty seconds which open 1979’s The Muppet Movie which will forever connect Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog, with the banjo. As Kermit strums his banjo and whimsically ponders the life questions subtly embedded into the lyrics of The Rainbow Connection, he finds the inner voice we all seek, telling us that we can accomplish anything. Far beyond its Academy Award© nomination, the touching sentiment of The Rainbow Connection is proof positive of the timeless appeal of Jim Henson’s optimistic philosophy."
The exhibit will showcase original artwork, rare photographs, pop culture objects and, of course, Kermit the Frog.
A very special banjo will be on display as well.
The Muppets Banjo might not mean much to people outside of the Muppets or the banjo fanbase, but the history is rich and full.
Before its start on The Muppet Show, this banjo played on hundreds of stages; it even played for Queen Elizabeth.
The Muppets Banjo, of course, didn't get its name until 1976 when it joined The Muppet Show stage band, and it only gained character from there.
When Julie Andrews guest starred on The Muppet Show in 1977, she signed the head of the banjo.
She started a tradition for Muppet Show guests.
Gene Kelly, Roy Rogers, Johnny Cash, Elton John, Diana Ross, Peter Sellers and many more have signed the Muppets Banjo.
The banjo was eventually retired and taken in by Heather.
"After musically mingling on over 7000 recordings with stage and screen legends such as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, James Cagney, Peggy Lee, Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis, Jr., the Muppets Banjo will rest on its laurels at the American Banjo Museum as a truly unique piece of banjo history."
This exhibition is running through August of 2019.
"We want to believe in Kermit because he – like Henson - exudes a sincerity and kindness that we’d all like to see in ourselves."