For the past several decades, Atlanta has been home to the largest American non-profit organization dedicated to the art of puppet theater, the Center for Puppetry Arts.
The Midtown attraction features a museum, regular puppet-based shows, education opportunities, and a place where puppetry can be celebrated every day.
The Center for Puppetry Arts has been a part of the Atlanta community since September of 1978. Vincent Anthony, who arrived to Atlanta from Florida in the 1960s, made it possible. He started a traveling performance team called the Vagabond Marionettes. After performing all over the Southeast, including places like the Woodruff Arts Center, Anthony found a place for his puppets to call home.
That home was the old Spring Street Elementary School, which was later transformed into the Center for Puppetry Arts. During its first season, the Center offered a puppet exhibition, shows and workshops for the community. Now, almost 40 years later, the Center has stayed true to its original goal of focusing on performance, education and the museum. You can read more about the Center's history on its history page.
5 reasons to go to the Center for Puppetry Arts
Family Series Shows – Audiences young and old visit the Center for its variety of family-friendly shows. Whether it's a brand new story or a new spin on a familiar one, these shows allow visitors to immerse themselves in the true spirit of the world of puppetry.
Here is a look at the current Family Series schedule:
- The Tortoise, the Hare & Other Aesop's Fables – Aug. 14-Sept. 23, 2018
Peter Pan – Sept. 25-Oct. 28, 2018
Brother Coyote and Sister Fox – Oct. 30-Nov. 11, 2018
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Nov. 13-Dec. 30, 2018 (no shows on Nov. 22 or Dec. 25)
Center for Puppetry Arts' Jim Henson collection. Photo credit: Sara Hanna Photography
Photo: Jewel Wicker/Atlanta Life and Culture Blog
The Jim Henson Collection – When the Center for Puppetry Arts first opened its doors, it was Jim Henson, with some help from his creation, Kermit the Frog, who cut the ceremonial ribbon. Now, almost 40 years later, Henson is still being honored in The Worlds of Puppetry Museum. The Jim Henson Collection is an interactive exhibition that walks visitors through the iconic locations from Henson's life and shows off his most famous puppets, including Kermit and Miss Piggy.
The Global Collection – Once you've viewed the Jim Henson Collection, the Museum has a separate exhibit to give visitors a taste of the different puppetry traditions from major cultures around the world. Once inside, visitors can go from continent to continent to see artifacts and get a hands-on feel of how other cultures use puppetry as a form of teaching and communicating. Highlights from this collection include pieces from “Gumby” and “The Lion King on Broadway”.
The Create-A-Puppet Workshop – When you buy tickets to see a Family Series show, you get access to the Create-A-Puppet Workshop where you'll get to go through the hands-on process of building your own puppet. Throughout the workshop, an instructor will guide you through interactive learning opportunities and give you the chance to put your puppet into motion on the classroom stage. Children ages four and up can participate in the workshop, but a parent is required to help children ages two and three if they want to join in the fun.
Movies with Puppets as the Stars – When was the last time you saw some of your favorite Muppet films? The Center hosts Saturday evening film screenings throughout the year with free access to the Museum before the show. Here's a look at what's coming up this year:
The Dark Crystal – 8 p.m. Aug. 4, 2018
This Frog: A Kermit Kompilation from Sam and Friends to Stardom – 7 p.m. Sept. 29, 2018
The Muppet Christmas Carol – 7 p.m. Dec. 8, 2018
When to go
The Worlds of Puppetry Museum and Museum Store are both closed on Mondays. However, the doors open at 9 am from Tuesday to Friday (9:30 am for the Museum Store), 10 am on Saturdays and 12 pm on Sundays. The Museum and Museum Store both close every day at 5 pm. You might want to call ahead or check the Calendar of Events if you're looking to go on a holiday.
Admission for the Center can vary depending on which attractions interest you and when you want to go. When you go online to purchase tickets, you will need to buy them for the specific date you are planning to visit.
Tickets for Family Series shows will typically cost around $20 and the cost of the ticket includes admission to the museum and the Create-A-Puppet Workshop. Children under two may enter for free as long as they do not require their own seat.
To visit the Museum only, you will usually pay around $13 for a self-guided tour or $17 if you want to go through the exhibits with a guide. If you buy a movie ticket, the price is about $13 and also grants you access to the Museum before the show. You can visit the Museum Store free of charge.
If you think you might want to go to the Center regularly, you can check out the Membership page to see the different participation options and what perks come with each. Prices range from $75 to $4,999 and include discounts on different events and activities.
Before you plan your trip, it's a good idea to go to the online ticket page to get specific pricing on the activity you're interested in. The ticket sales office is open for visitors from 9 a.m.. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. You can also call them at 404-873-3391 for questions and reservations.
How to get there
The Center for Puppetry Arts is located at 1404 Spring Street, NW with the parking entrance on 18th Street. Parking is free, but somewhat limited, so the Center recommends that you get there early to make sure you have enough time to find a space and enter the building.
If you're not familiar with the Center's location, the website includes a Parking & Directions page with details to help you get there.
If you are traveling on MARTA, you will need to get off at either the North or South line at the Arts Center Station. If you exit the station on West Peachtree Street, just go toward your right and walk two blocks north. Once you hit 18th Street, make a left and cross over Spring Street. The Center for Puppetry Arts will be your left on the corner of Spring and 18th streets.