Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street - Youth Wing

November 14, 2009 - February 21, 2010
Central Library, Youth Wing
curated by Sesame Workshop

From Gary E. Knell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sesame Workshop:

Early on in the production of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney was asked about the most far-reaching goal the program could possibly achieve. She responded by telling of a dream she harbored that Israelis and Palestinians would be at the negotiating table, and Bert and Ernie would somehow find a way to "break the ice," resulting in the breakthrough to create a lasting peace.

Seemed a bit dreamy, huh?

Well, with that as an inspirational framework, my colleagues and I set out on a journey that has now taken Sesame Street to 140 countries around the world and is viewed today as one of the most successful examples of public diplomacy to have ever been launched.

For more than 40 years, the power of Muppets and the power of creative talent committed to offering each generation a better world has enabled Sesame Street to impart important life lessons to children. And no matter which Sesame Street broadcast originates the messages, they resound worldwide: that in South Africa, you can be friends with a schoolmate who is HIV positive; that the Arab child in the village near your home in Haifa has aspirations to be a doctor, just like you; that girls in Cairo aspire to visit the moon; that in Tanzania, you need not become sick from a mosquito bite if you use a bed net properly; or that in Mexico, Germany, Australia and the United States, you can be healthy if you eat your colors.

Of all of the many, many wonderful experiences this position has given me, seeing children laughing, singing and learning with the show—in their language, on their terms—never gets old. It is a new, wonderful experience of hope, revisited with child after child. It is my goal that each child's unique discoveries of the world, propelled by a profound curiosity about why things work the way they do, will be bolstered by Sesame Street.

In my job, I am called upon to negotiate, protect and promote a global cultural icon, which has now found success across centuries. It is a tool that exports creativity and education. It is about optimism . . . because even those who have fought and struggled still want to find that special place of hope for their children and grandchildren. It's about hope in Northern Ireland, where Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein wears a Cookie Monster watch. It's about President Obama growing up watching the show with his little sister. It's about the German Consulate making Bert and Ernie "dual citizens" of the U.S. and Germany. It's about hundreds of children gathering around a rickshaw outside Dacca, Bangladesh, to catch their first glimpses of the Bengali Muppets.

It's about changing the world.

"Sesame Workshop"®, "Sesame Street"®, and associated characters, trademarks, and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. ©2009 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved.

For Sesame Street learning fun, visit www.sesameworkshop.org

This exhibition is made possible in part by The Jim Henson Company and The Jim Henson Legacy.

BPL - Exhibition: Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street, Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures, claymation series
Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures
claymation series
TM & ©2009 Sesame Workshop

BPL - Exhibition: Seasame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street, Pancho, a Plaza Sésamo Muppet from Mexico
Pancho, a Plaza Sésamo Muppet from Mexico
TM &
©2009 Sesame Workshop

BPL - Exhibition: Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street, Zikwe, a character from Takalani Sesame (South Africa)
Zikwe, a character from Takalani Sesame
(South Africa), makes a group  of South African children laugh.
photographer Ryan Heffernan
TM & 2009 Sesame Workshop

BPL - Exhibition; Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street, Glover, a well-loved character on Jalan Sesame (Indonesia)
Along with local Muppets, Glover is a well-loved character on Jalan Sesame
(Indonesia).
photographer Ryan Heffernan
TM & 2009 Sesame Workshop

BPL - Exhibition: Sesame Street: A celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street, a young boy talk with Chamki from Galli Galli Sim (India)
A young boy talk with Chamki from  Galli Galli Sim (India)
photographer Ryan Heffernan
TM & ©2009 Sesame Workshop

BPL - Exhibition: Sesame Street: A Celelbration of 40 Years of Life on the Street, a young girl and Filfil, a character from Alam Simsim (Egypt) dancing in front of the Pyramids
A young girl and Filfil, a character from Alam Simsim (Egypt) dancing in front of the Pyramids.
photographer Ryan Heffernan
TM & ©2009 Sesame Workshop