Pulling Strings in Babylon, the International Puppetry Museum

The marvelous artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins (if you are unfamiliar with this artist, you MUST check out his site) has declared this week to be Puppet Week at his Artlog.

The post brings a smile as puppets are wont to do.

I have myself  intended to post on what seems the very Mecca of Puppetry , found  right here in Los Angeles, the Pasadena based International Puppetry Museum.

Following Mr. Hicks-Jenkin’s lead , this is the result.

Having visited this museum on the advice of my chum Gina ( she being  a member of a puppet making-performing-loving clan), I was instantly dazzled,and of course charmed beyond belief.

For in this somewhat forlorn parish hall of a somewhat faded Episcopal church was a treasure trove hidden in plain sight.

Although there was a display of puppets behind glass, thoughtfully presented; the bulk of the collection, hung over head in a jumble of strings, piled here in there in a chaotic jumble and  perhaps more heartbreaking, painstakingly categorized and stored  in pedestrian Rubbermaid containers; suitable  perhaps for out of season suburban holiday decor, but not magic of this quality.

But the very sad, very real fact is this treasure trove of a museum cannot afford to properly display, archive, care for these gems without funding. Simple storage is the most immediate solution, the fear being of course a need to sell this amazing collection piece-meal. That would be a terrible tragedy.

Los Angeles had been, may still be , a hub of puppetry , the Industry had made great use of puppets magic. but in this grim de-humanized Digital Age, Anime reigns supreme; the subtle charms of string, felt and whitled wood do not seem to captivate our jaded youth.

That is until they witness an actual puppet show, then the  enchantmnt begins anew.

Detail of a puppet set, enough wizardry to satisfy any Potter fan.

detail of detail

My visit to IPM caught me off guard, I was not prepared to document what I found, equiped with my I-phone I simply clicked away. There is no attempt at identification, just memories of my own bewlderment. If you desire more information, please visit, and if you can PLEASE donate, we mustn’t lose this international treasure.

a mad delightful jumble

a more dignified presentation

Beloved Punch has at last lost his head. For more images of dear Punch, check out this former post.

I believe this and the following to be Sicilian, they are quite large, 36 inches or so, perhaps a bit more. Marvelous.

In closing I sincerely encourage a visit to the International Puppetry Museum, even just a quick peek at their site. You will be enchanted, and please if you can ,send along some cash, our Stringed friends need you.

Until next time,

respectfully submitted,

Babylon Baroque

7 Responses to “Pulling Strings in Babylon, the International Puppetry Museum”

  1. Oh my! Your photographs show puppets of fantastic diversity and imaginative richness, and I’m appalled that this collection is in danger. Wel done Leonard for giving a shout for the museum. But you’re right when you say that it’s hard for people to imagine how wonderful puppetry can be unless they experience it first hand. It’s in performance that the magic happens, which is why the present technology is so marvellous for the display of puppets, because the performances that will enhance understanding can be seen at the touch of a screen! This collection deserves to be displayed with an artistry and imaginative flair that matches the skills of the designers, makers and performers who produced the puppets and the performances they starred in.

  2. babylonbaroque Says:

    I of course agree with you.
    I do not mean to sound like a Luddite ( although I am a bit of one, fancy gadgets aside). New technology is of course a wonder, but i will pass on Avatar and continue to embrace Punch and Judy.

    It would be marvelous to see this collection, with clips of past performances, perhaps some live encore performances, to renew devotion to this art.; all properly displayed.
    But again, it is a matter of money.It really is a wonder how well presented the collection is considering the museum is operating on the slimmest of budgets.

    Thank you for popping in, so pleased to have “met” you, I eagerly await the monograph of your work, should arrive shortly.
    Until next time,

  3. This is Gina from the puppet clan. Great job. You are the best defender of the underdog with and without strings. Thanks for the support and I will pass on this blog to the IPM crew who will love it, I’m sure.

  4. Leonard, I shall include a link to this page, and to the Punch & Judy one, in my next Artlog post. Hope that’s OK with you.

  5. babylonbaroque Says:

    That would be super, thank you.

  6. […] at Box Elder, in which she explores the automata and fantastical creations of Robert Coudray, and HERE and HERE are puppet-theme posts from Leonard at Babylon Baroque, who is an enthusiast and […]

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