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Arts & Culture

A Most Sensational, Inspirational, Celebrational, Muppetational Show

Exhibit Explores Jim Henson’s UMD Student Work

By Sala Levin ’10

Jim Henson poses with Sam, the star of "Sam and Friends, in a car in front of his parents' University Park home.

Photo courtesy of the Jim Henson Company

In this 1956 photo, Jim Henson '60 poses with Sam—the star of "Sam and Friends," the local TV show Henson created with his future wife, Jane Nebel '55—in front of his parents' University Park home.

Who was Jim Henson before the Muppets exploded in popularity? What were his artistic passions? And how does the artwork he created before his 1960 graduation connect to his later artistic vision?

“Inspired! Jim Henson at Maryland,” a yearlong exhibit on display through May at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library (MSPAL), aims to answer those questions.

“I had this idea to see if we can go back to that time and see what was coming,” says Vincent Novara, curator for Special Collections in Performing Arts at MSPAL.

Here are a few of the images and pieces that suggest how Henson’s time at Maryland shaped his future—and, probably, your own childhood.

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HF neg 02 1956 jim sam clean fixed 1920x1080 0

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