The Detroit Institute of Arts this month gets a new permanent gallery featuring hand, shadow and string puppets, and the original Howdy Doody marionette from the 1940s will be on display for an opening exhibition.
The gallery that opens Dec. 22 will display pieces from the museum’s Paul McPharlin Puppetry Collection, which includes more than 800 puppets.
“We’re excited to have our puppets on view for the first time in 10 years,” Larry Baranski, director of public programs and puppet curator, said in a statement. “The new gallery will give us the opportunity to bring out old friends . . . and to show the public the great variety and diversity of our outstanding collection.”
The opening exhibit will include rare 18th-century American and Italian hand puppets, and iconic puppets from the early days of television such as the puppet seen on NBC’s “Howdy Doody Show” and characters from the book “The Marvelous Land of Oz.” The iconic Punch and Judy puppets also will be displayed.
The puppets included in the exhibit will change every six months. A series of puppet-related events are planned for late December at the museum in Detroit’s Cultural Center area. The events include puppet-making workshops and performances from Dec. 26-31.
“Our puppets have long been a favorite with the public,” museum director Graham Beal said.
McPharlin was a Detroit resident and prominent figure in American puppetry during the early 20th century. The installation is made possible by an endowment fund established in 1951 by the McPharlin family and The Detroit News.
Puppets will be shown in cases with programmable lighting that can create scenic effects, and original stages and backdrops also will be displayed. And the museum’s 300-seat Lecture Hall is getting new stage equipment to enhance performances using puppets.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

  1. Greg Gracer says:

    Was there not a plan for a 50″s TV Show Celebrity puppets? Soupy and Gang? Kuckla Fran and Ollie? Etc…

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