Moving Image Memories, Plus CONTEST!

Published: November 23, 2020
Categories: Feature

UPDATE: Our raffle is now closed, and the winners have been notified. Thank you to everyone who donated!

The Museum of the Moving Image has given us so much. And now it’s time for us to return the favor.

MOMI has hosted countless film screenings, Q&As with notable Muppet-related people, and meet-and-greets. It’s been a home base for Muppet fans to gather. And, of course, it’s the home to the permanent Jim Henson Exhibition, featuring puppets, relics, and stories from Jim Henson’s creations and beyond.

Since the start of our nationwide shutdown, museums have been hit hard. They rely on attendance to help fund their costly overhead, and MOMI is no different. To help keep their doors open and exhibits like The Jim Henson Exhibition running, they’ve started a Kickstarter campaign.

We at ToughPigs feel that it’s so incredibly important to keep this institution alive, we’re offering a secondary benefit if you donate to their Kickstarter. Here’s the deal:

  • Donate to The Museum of the Moving Image’s Kickstarter campaign
  • Forward your confirmation to
  • Every $10 spent earns you a “raffle ticket” for the random drawing
  • Three winners will be chosen to receive a ToughPigs mystery grab bag of Muppet merchandise
  • The grab bag will contain some rare and fun Muppet merchandise from our own personal collections
  • Winners will be chosen on Sunday, December 6

We hope you’ll consider donating to ensure MOMI’s survival. In the meantime, we’ve asked some of our friends to share their favorite MOMI memories. Naturally, we all feel very strongly about this museum, and we’ve got a few words to prove it!

Ryan Roe

The Museum of the Moving Image is one of my favorite places in New York City. It’s not just an essential place for Muppet fans to visit, it’s essential for anyone who’s enthusiastic about movie, television, and video games. I have so many great memories associated with the museum. Many of them are related to the Jim Henson Exhibition: Walking through the Henson exhibit for the first time and getting a thrill every time I turned a corner and beheld yet another familiar puppet or historical artifact. Bringing my family to the museum and watching my parents try their hand at Muppet-style monitor puppetry. Eavesdropping on museum visitors and hearing adults recall growing up with the characters, while young, budding Muppet geeks demonstrate their newfound knowledge of who performed which Muppet. Attending Henson screenings where Craig Shemin interviews special guests who share stories and behind-the-scenes information that we’ve never heard before, and which I know will be added to Muppet Wiki in no time.

But some of my favorite memories of all aren’t about the exhibitions or the screenings at all. They’re the moments after those events, when like-minded nerds mingle in the lobby of the museum. It may look like we’re just standing around talking, but it’s good for the soul engaging in these deep discussions with Muppet and/or movie fans about what we all just saw, how we felt about it, and what we’d love to see at future screenings. The guests at these events (writers, directors, Muppet performers, etc.) are often really generous with their time during these moments, allowing lots of fans to say hi or ask questions.

The Museum of the Moving Image makes all of this happen. It’s a magnificent place, and I hope it’s around forever.

Louie Pearlman

My favorite MOMI memory is getting to see the permanent Jim Henson exhibition a few days early with Tough Pigs editor in chief Joe Hennes. We made a whole video about it for the site! The excitement at the press preview was palpable, and it was truly wonderful to be a room with so many people who were there for the purpose of celebrating Jim Henson’s legacy. MOMI’s Jim Henson exhibit is the Mecca for Muppet fans. I’m so glad it exists.

Anthony Strand

I’ve only been to MOMI once, but it was an amazing experience. The year was 2013, and I was visiting my future Movin’ Right Along co-host Ryan. He took me to MOMI, where we saw some Muppets and made a flipbook. That flipbook is one of my most treasured possessions to this day, and there it is, right above this paragraph.

Shane Keating

In May 2015, MOMI was having a screening of the new Caroll Spinney documentary I Am Big Bird. Oscar the Grouch was always my favorite character, so I was really looking forward to seeing it and maybe-possibly getting something autographed by Caroll. To my surprise once I got there, I learned Caroll and Oscar would be doing a meet-and-greet photo session before the movie. So, I got to meet my very first Muppet in person (and my favorite one no less!). 

After the movie, I was standing around the lobby with some other fans when I heard a familiar “la, la, la” coming from the hallway nearby. Caroll was coming out from backstage and sat down at a table not far away. I’m always too nervous to talk to famous-type peoples, but I worked up the nerve to go over to him. I showed him the item I wished to have signed and not only did he sign it, but he took a few moments to make a quick doodle of Oscar saying my name on a piece of cardboard I had with it. That was a great day and I have MOMI to thank for that.

John Papovoch

What to say about the Museum of the Moving Image? I first went to MoMI for the Jerry Nelson tribute in 2012 and have been going basically non-stop ever since. I have so many stories of events here it’s hard to do a write-up without going way too long. So here’s some bullet points of some of my favorite moments at MoMI:

  • Dave Goelz accidentally saying we all loved Gonzo instead of loving Gobo at the Jerry Nelson tribute, which was a small running joke in the Muppet fandom for a short while.
  • Then a few years later, Dave Goelz blindsided us all by being a surprise guest at a 40th anniversary of The Muppet Show event. That sneaky guy!
  • Winning a game during a Muppet Trivia event by being able to finish lyrics to Sesame Street songs from memory. If I remember right, I was up against ToughPigs’ own Staci Rosen during that game… Good game!
  • For whatever reason, maybe because it was right before Christmas, but the “Humans of Sesame Street” panel in particular just stands out in my mind as an extremely great day.
  • I went to a Sesame Street-related screening that happened to fall on Jim Henson’s birthday. The screening ended up being attended by a large number of people from the extended Henson family. At the very end of the screening, as the house lights turned back up, the family jumped into an impromptu singing of Happy Birthday to Jim. Not many of the die-hards were around for it but I was more than happy to witness it.
  • I saw I Am Big Bird three times during it’s pre-theatrical festival run and Caroll was at all three screenings, the last one being at MoMI. At the end of the day, somehow I was sitting at a table in the lobby with him as he signed a book for me. Five years later, especially now that Caroll is no longer with us, it’s so surreal to think this person I grew up watching on TV was sitting at a small table across from me making me feel like an equal for a few fleeting moments.
  • On that note, any time talking to Craig Shemin after a screening at all, he’s always been so kind and accommodating to all of us, he deserves so much credit for what he does for the Museum. And when all is said and done, the Museum of the Moving Image through their efforts with the Henson Legacy have done a great job of bringing this fandom together, getting us off our computers and giving us all a reason to celebrate together. The Museum of the Moving Image does so much for us that we can definitely do the same in return.

Margie Salvatore

Back in February, I went down to NYC for a friend’s art show, and the only thing I requested was going to MOMI. We could literally do anything else, I just wanted to go there! Our time was running out because I was with a group of people who strung our plans in all different directions, and it was ticking down that I may not make it to MoMi, and figured, since I was coming down the following week, I could swing by then and still see the Dark Crystal exhibition. We ended up having the time to go, and boy howdy so glad we did because it turned out to be the LAST day of the Dark Crystal exhibit. The Muppet exhibition was like walking into a big hug with a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. The Dark Crystal one was so invigorating and inspiring to see, and I am so glad I was able to see it. Stellar museum, beautifully exhibited, and wonderfully crafted.

Matthew Soberman

Much as the Muppets had Rowlf’s Tavern from 2015 to 2016, Muppet fans have had the Museum of the Moving Image. With The Jim Henson Exhibition and so many screenings and panels, the museum has become a second home to Muppet fans from New York and around the world. I’ve had so many memorable moments at MoMI that I couldn’t begin to count them all, even if I had a certain Sesame Street resident to help me. (Luis is good at counting, right?) I’ve been in a packed house to see Labyrinth after David Bowie passed away, met countless Muppet performers and luminaries, and LARPed in the world of The Dark Crystal all in that magical building. But one moment that’s extremely close to me was the time when I was selected to compete for the title of The Toughest Pig at the Second Annual Muppet Trivia Spectacular. Getting to answer some of the hardest Muppet trivia questions alongside my friends Ryan and Joe really made me feel special. I even wound up learning things I didn’t know before. (Thanks for that, Craig Shemin and Stephanie D’Abruzzo!) And while I came in second to Ryan and his incredible depth of knowledge, when it’s a learning experience with friends beside you, I never felt like a loser. It gave me confidence and one great way to spend an afternoon. Ryan may be The Toughest Pig, but I doubt anyone could’ve matched me for the happiest one.

Chris Smigliano

My favorite MOMI  Memory would definitely have to be the Kickstarter party for the Jim Henson Exhibition opening. An excellent new exhibit, great people to fan talk with, Fraggle-wrapped candy, and Taminella under glass! What more could you ask for? A great night that was!

Mitchell Stein

The Museum of the Moving Image is by far one of my favorite places to visit in New York. The first time I visited the museum was for the opening ceremonies for the Jim Henson Exhibition in 2017, and I instantly became enamored by the museum both as a Muppet fan as well as a lover of all things cinema. Since then, I’ve always made an effort to visit when I could, and to attend some of their incredible events (particularly the amazing Muppet-themed ones!). From a Muppet fan perspective, the museum led to so many great experiences; MOMI is the place where I got to see Muppet artifacts up close, meet Muppet legends like Paul Williams – and on another instance, stood just a few feet away from Fozzie Bear, Abby Cadabby, and Red Fraggle at a Henson Exhibition opening event! I’m thankful for the incredible experiences had at the museum and for the wonderful people that I always meet, from inside the Muppet-world and in the fan community. I strongly encourage anyone who has visited or hopes to visit to support the MOMI fundraising campaign to help it continue to inspire and entertain all guests. 

Patrick Cotnoir

The Museum of the Moving Image is my favorite place in New York. One of the reasons that I moved to Astoria was so I could go whenever I liked. Pre-pandemic, I was there at least once a week. The last thing I did before lockdown was seeing Akira there on the big screen. The events they put on are next level. I’ve gotten to see so many insanely cool people there – Frank Oz, Douglas Trumbull, Keir Dullea, basically any Henson related person you can think of. 

In 2012, I went to a memorial tribute to Jerry Nelson and got to hear so many people who worked with Jerry talk about him for hours. It was amazing. I wish it was on video, I’d love to watch it again. Getting to hear so many talented people in the film and television field talk about the things they are passionate about has been a true game changer for me. 

I love the Museum and I cannot wait to go back. I sincerely hope you’ll donate to the fundraiser, they deserve to stay open until the end of time. I miss it.

Jay Fosgitt

For a terrific story about Jay’s fan letter going on display at The Museum of the Moving Image, be sure to read our full interview!

Joe Hennes

I couldn’t agree more with all the comments above. The Museum of the Moving Image would be our favorite place if they’d stopped after building a permanent Jim Henson exhibit. But they keep on going with Muppet-related screenings, celebrity appearances, unique events, and a central location for Muppet fans to gather and share in the love of this pop culture history we all adore so much.

Perhaps my favorite MOMI moment is (as alluded to by Louie Pearlman above) the press opening for The Jim Henson Exhibition. It’s a memorable experience to see these artifacts anytime, but that day was special. Not only did we have a chance to explore the exhibit without the burden of a crowd, but most of the glass partitions hadn’t been installed yet. So most everything was just… out in the open. There was no barrier between us and Kermit or Rowlf or the La Choy Dragon. It felt very Night at the Museum, as if everyone was just settling down for a long stay of being viewed by thousands of visitors, getting one last gasp of air before going under the glass.

That moment is closely followed by the following night, when MOMI hosted their “thank you” reception for the Kickstarter donors. This time, instead of looking at the artifacts on display, I got to look the other way and see the reactions of my fellow fanatics. As important as it is for these things to be preserved in a museum, it’s equally important for them to be seen, especially by those of us who truly love it all.

MOMI is many, many things. It’s a home base, a research facility, a movie theater, and a tribute to Jim Henson. Even beyond the Muppet connections, the museum honors all things film and television, video games, YouTube, and flipbooks. It’s a spotlight on passion, history, technology, and craft. It has done so much for us, and it’s important that we return the favor and help protect and preserve this wonderful institution.

Click here to get moving on the ToughPigs forum!

by Joe Hennes –


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Written by Joe Hennes

Co-owner and Editor-in-Chief.
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