Center for Puppetry Arts showcases the art form in performances and exhibits

Santa waving at the mainstage theater

More than 100,000 people from all 50 states and a dozen countries visit the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta annually, watching performances, attending educational events, and strolling through exhibits.

“It’s a unique venue – not just in Atlanta, but also in Georgia, the U.S. and the world,” said Grants Manager Bradley Hartman. “Most major cities have a ballet, a botanical garden, an art museum, or an opera, but very few have a venue dedicated to the puppetry arts.”

“Nearly every culture has a puppetry tradition,” Hartman continued, “and the art of puppetry has the power to stretch imaginations and allow people to explore unfamiliar concepts. Puppetry enables audiences to naturally identify with all the characters more freely and make connections based on experiences and actions rather than physical traits.”

The center will explore the themes of individuality, friendship, and self-confidence through its adaptation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™, which Publix Charities is sponsoring.

With Publix Charities’ help, 25,000 patrons will experience the whimsical, educational performance. The sponsorship allows the center to use revenue from ticket sales to empower artists, performers, curators, and educators to continue providing educational and inspiring programming to patrons of all ages.

Those patrons include

  • 70,000 who learn about the cultural history of puppetry at the Worlds of Puppetry Museum;
  • 95,000 who will attend a fully-staged puppetry performance in the Family Series;
  • 5,000 who will be challenged and mesmerized by the fully staged theatrical performances in the New Directions Series for Adults and Teens, such as the recent performance of Tesla Vs. Edison, and
  • 70,000 who will participate in interactive, hands-on, and virtual workshops.

The museum.

The Worlds of Puppetry Museum houses one temporary and two permanent exhibition galleries:

  • The Jim Henson Collection Gallery represents the largest collection of his artifacts, giving visitors a chance to journey through the puppeteer and animator’s extensive body of work.
  • The Global Collection Gallery sheds light on the global significance of puppetry in education, entertainment, politics, and religion by exploring the universal elements and themes of the art form.
  • Temporary special exhibitions, such as Festive Features, highlight characters from holiday TV specials such as Rudolph and Santa.
Muppets museum

Tesla vs. Edison.

Hartman said, “People often associate puppets with children, but puppetry can be a powerful medium for adult audiences. In November 2023, for example, the center won three Suzi Bass Awards (Best Direction, Best Lighting, and Best Costume Design) for Tesla vs. Edison, an original, fully staged puppetry production written for adults. The awards honor outstanding work in Atlanta’s live theater and the artists who create it.

“This production explores the rivalry at the heart of the ‘current war’—an era of mind-blowing progress when electricity was the new cutting edge of technology in a steam-powered society.  While it may be difficult for a normal stage production to transport audiences back to that time and place, puppetry—a medium where inanimate objects seemingly come to life—has the power to tell real-life stories of the fantastical in surreal settings where anything can happen.”