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UConn Puppet Museum to Open New Exhibit
of Famous Puppets from Film, Television

Released: April 7, 2008

Release # 08021-A

John Bell,
617-599-3250 (cell), 860-486-0806 (office)

STORRS, CT — A new exhibit of puppets from film, television and the avant-garde will bring over 60 famous and obscure puppets from across the United States to the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut from April 27 to Nov. 30.         

Puppets through the Lens will include Howdy Doody; Shari Lewis's Lambchop and Charlie Horse; Jim Henson's Scooter; Davey and Goliath; the Jukebox Band from Shining Time Station; and the gopher from Caddyshack

According to John Bell, the director of the Ballard Institute, each element of the Puppets through the Lens exhibit will include three aspects: the puppets themselves, the contexts in which they were filmed, and footage from the final product. 

“We are interested not only in showing magnificent and historically important examples of American puppetry," Bell said, "but also in explaining how exactly puppet movement is captured by the camera in film and television studios and on stage." 

Bell, a puppet historian, adds that "one of the most important characteristics of modern puppetry is its intimate connection with moving pictures, from the early days of film in the late nineteenth century, to the very first experiments with television in the 1930s, and now the latest examples of puppet performance on Youtube and other internet sites.  Puppets through the Lens will examine this continuing tradition, so we can understand its history and its possibilities for the future.” 

 The exhibition will also feature compelling examples from contemporary avant-garde puppetry by such artists as Janie Geiser, Jeff Sias, Basil Milovsoroff, Laura Heit, Sandow Birk, and Paul Zaloom; as well as innovative internet puppetry created by Jim Napolitano, Tim Lagasse, and Christine Papalexis. 

A special section of the show will feature puppets in television advertising, including an animated telegram from a McDonald's commercial; a stop-action Santa Claus from a Canadian cell phone company ad; and, from Mike Bannon's commercials for Connecticut's Bob's Stores, a talking chair and an animated figure of founder Bob Lapidus. 

It will also feature rod puppets used in an episode of Murder, She Wrote; historic figures from landmark 1930s puppet films by Margo and Rufus Rose and Bil Baird; and 1950s television puppets by San Francisco's Ralph Chessé and Cincinnati's Larry Smith. 

The opening of Puppets through the Lens will take place on Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 2 p.m., at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry's Depot Campus home at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.  The opening will feature refreshments, performances, appearances by many of the participating puppeteers, and guided tours of the exhibit by the curators. 

Puppets through the Lens and the Ballard Museum will be open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m. from April 27th through November 30th.  The museum is also open by special appointment.  The Ballard Museum welcomes school groups and community groups.  Special tours and workshops are available. 

A lecture/performance series of talks, performances, and film showings by artists, curators, and historians will take place during the run of the exhibit; details will be announced later in the spring. 

Puppets through the Lens at The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry

Description:  An exhibition of puppets in film, television, and the Internet from across the United States, from the 1930s to the present.

Exhibit details: Opening Reception: Sunday, April 27, 2-6 p.m.  Free Admission.

Regular Museum Hours: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 12 to 5 p.m. from April 27 through November 30, 2008; or by special appointment.

Admission: Admission is free; donations are accepted.

Contact: Stefano Brancato, 860 486 0339; bimp@uconn.edu; www.bimp.uconn.edu.

Directions: The Ballard Institute is located at 6 Bourn Place on the Depot Campus of the University of Connecticut, just off Route 44 in Storrs, Connecticut.  Go to www.bimp.uconn.edu for directions.


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