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Smithsonian Institution Oscar

Oscar the Grouch in a Smithsonian waste bin promoting the Ten Years of Sesame Street exhibition.

American history henson puppets

Dr. Teeth, Jim, Kermit, and Rowlf.


Sam and Friends


Kermit the Frog puppet held by the Smithsonian.


Miss Piggy at the Smithsonian with Dorothy's ruby slippers.


Ernie and Bert on display in 1975.


Grover and Bert at Smithsonian 2019

Bert visits the Arts and Industries Building [1] and Grover visits the National Air and Space Museum [2] during the Sesame Street Road Trip events.

The Smithsonian Institution is a group of museums in Washington, D.C. established by the US government in 1846. Over the years, the Smithsonian has been host to a number of exhibits and displays featuring the work of Jim Henson.

In 1975, Ernie and Bert were put on display as a part of the museum's "We the People" exhibition honoring the country's bicentennial. The puppets became a popular feature and continued to remain on display at the museum for years afterward.[1]

From June to September 1979, the Smithsonian hosted Ten Years of Sesame Street, a special exhibit celebrating the show's 10th anniversary. A decade later, another exhibition opened to commemorate the show's 20th anniversary.

In 1989, the National Museum of American History created Sesame Street: The First 20 Years, which included the frontages of Mr. Hooper's Store and the Fix-It Shop, photo posers, props, and photos.

Celebrating 150 years, the Institute broadcast Smithsonian Fantastic Journey in 1996, which featured appearances by Kermit the Frog and Beaker.

In May 2006, an exhibit called Muppets and Mechanisms opened at the Smithsonian. The exhibit, divided into three displays at the American History Museum, featured nine puppets from the original Sam and Friends show; a display of characters puppeteered by Jim Henson including Dr. Teeth, Rowlf the Dog, Kermit the Frog, and Jim; and animatronic figures and mechanisms from The Dark Crystal and Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. Jane Henson opened the exhibit.

Jane Henson, on behalf of the Jim Henson family, donated 10 of the original Sam and Friends puppets to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on August 25, 2010. These included the original Kermit, Pierre the French Rat, Yorick, Mushmellon, Sam, Harry the Hipster, Chicken Liver, Icky Gunk, Moldy Hay, and Professor Madcliffe.[2]

A traveling Smithsonian exhibit of Muppets opened September 24, 2010 at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.[3]

Jane Henson stated in 2010 that the family plans were to donate more puppets to the Smithsonian in the future.[3] Those plans came to fruition three years later, when Cheryl Henson donated 20 more Muppet puppets and props to the National Museum of American History on September 24th, 2013 (Jim Henson's 77th birthday). Among the additions were Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Count von Count, Prairie Dawn, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Scooter, J. P. Grosse, Red Fraggle, Boober Fraggle, Uncle Traveling Matt, and Wilkins; as well as early puppet builds of Grover, Cookie Monster, and Rowlf the Dog.[4][5]

Kermit was included in the 2016 NMAH exhibition "Giving in America."[6]

In December 2022, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History debuted "Entertainment Nation", a new permanent exhibit featuring a rotating selection of items from the museum's holdings of television, movie, sports, theater and music-related objects. The announcement video released in April 2022 included shots of the museum's collection of original Muppet characters, including characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and Sam and Friends.[7] "The Original Kermit Puppet" from Sam and Friends is also one of four objects featured on the announcement page on the museum's website.[8] During the exhibit's opening weekend, the museum hosted two Muppet-related live events: A panel called In Conversation: The Impact of Sesame Street featuring Akimi Gibson, Carmen Osbahr and Alan Muraoka, and a Sam and Friends panel hosted by Craig Shemin, author of Sam and Friends: The Story of Jim Henson's First Television Show. A pop-up exhibit called Muppets Take American History launched at the same time, with displays of individual Muppet characters appearing in surprising places throughout the museum. The first two examples featured the Count von Count puppet in The Value of Money exhibit, and Uncle Travelling Matt in America on the Move.[9]


  • In 1975, Jim Henson proposed making an after-school, Muppet special set at the Smithsonian following the popularity of the Ernie and Bert puppets' donation.[10]
  • A stock photo of the Kermit puppet housed at the Smithsonian was used in transitions to Kermit sketches played in season 10 of Plaza Sésamo.
  • In 2024, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History scientists would name a prehistoric amphibian relative after Kermit, named Kermitops gratus.




  1. Jim Henson's Red Book: 5/31/1975 – ‘Ernie and Bert open at the Smithsonian in exhibit “We the People”.’
  2. Kermit the Frog Comes Home to Washington,, SI-368-2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 Original Kermit donated to Smithsonian Brett Zongker (Associated Press),, August 25, 2010
  4. Miss Piggy and the Muppets Settle In at the Smithsonian -; Washington Whispers, September 24, 2013
  5. The Muppets take the Smithsonian-; Becca Mitchell, September 24, 2013
  6. "Giving and the Arts," Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Centre, [2016].
  7. (YouTube)
  8. "Entertainment Nation", Smithsonian Museum of American History website.
  9. "The Muppets Take American History", Smithsonian Museum of American History website, December 2022.
  10. Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones, page 214.
  11. "Sesame Street Sign," NMAH.
  12. "Sesame Street 20th Anniversary Poster," NMAH.
  13. "Miss Piggy Puppet", museum website.

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