I grew up on Sesame Street — almost literally. The set of the show is designed to look like the streets of New York (there’s a reason one lovable muppet is a grouch who lives in garbage). The original Sesame Street offices were located across the street from Lincoln Center, explains Sesame Workshop archivist Susan Tofte, and the show was originally filmed on the Upper West Side before Sesame studios moved to Queens. I grew up in the West 80s, so the set — giant bird aside — looked familiar.
In honor of the iconic show entering its 45th season, Sesame Workshop and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts put together an exhibit showcasing the materials that make Sesame Street so special: original drawings of muppets, sheet music for original Sesame songs, and at least one photo of a board meeting with Telly Monster in attendance. Plus, the muppets themselves, and information on the people who bring them to life.
The exhibit (at Lincoln Center) allows adult and child fans an opportunity to peek behind the curtain. When asked if that might ruin the magic for puppet-believers, Tofte, who curated the exhibit, said the effect was the opposite. Even on the show, she says, kids who see a human operating a muppet pay attention to the latter. “The magic,” she says “is that kids talk directly to the puppet.”
“Somebody Come and Play”: 45 Years of Sesame Street Helping Kids Grow Smarter, Stronger, and Kinder Opened on September 18, 2014 and will be at on display in The Library for the Performing Arts’ Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery through January 31, 2015.