Muskegon Museum of Art

Muskegon, MI



Punch's Progress

September 7 - October 22, 2000


"Punch's Progress," a traveling exhibition organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts, traces the changing faces and forms of American puppetry between 1850 and 1950 by presenting examples from one of America's best collection of historic and contemporary puppets -- the DIA's Paul McPharlin Collection of Puppetry and Theater Arts. The Muskegon Museum of Art is the first Michigan venue for the exhibition. (left: Frank Paris, Josephne Baker, 1937, marionette, © The Detroit Institute of Arts, no reproduction allowed, 55.470)

The five major American puppet traditions during the period 1850-1950 are represented in this exhibition:: folk puppets, music hall or vaudeville puppets, avant-garde or experimental puppetry from the early twentieth century, cabaret (nightclub) puppetry from the 1930s/1940s, and television puppets from the 1940s. Included will be marionettes, rod, hand, and shadow puppets, as well as memorabilia, drawings, and prints, which illustrate the significance of American puppetry and puppeteers. (right: Anonymous, Punch, hand puppet, late 19th century, © The Detroit Institute of Arts, no reproduction allowed, 52.322)

Paul McPharlin (1903-1948) was himself a noted puppeteer and was considered by most experts to be the greatest authority on the subject of marionettes during the first half of the twentieth century. A writer and illustrator of two dozen books on marionettes, he came to national attention for his marionette exhibition at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. McPharlin assembled his puppet collection over a twenty-year period; his collection came to the DIA in 1951 as a gift from Mr. and Mrs. W. H. McPharlin and Mrs. Marjorie Batchelder McPharlin. (left: Michael Carmichael Carr, Dancer, c. 1914, marionette, © The Detroit Institute of Arts, no reproduction allowed, 58.10)

This exhibition was organized by the Detroit Institute of Art and is supported by a generous grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation. Additional support for the traveling exhibition has been provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit. (right: Alfred Wallace, The Tired World, 1950, rod puppet, © The Detroit Institute of Arts, no reproduction allowed, 56.7)

A special reception for Punch's Progress on October 8 will include performances by Detroit's PuppetART - American Russian Theatre at 2:00 and 3:30 p.m. Admission to the reception is free and refreshments will be provided. PuppetART has been funded by a grant from the Youth Advisory Council of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/23/11

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