Digging around in Jim Henson’s journal and endless collection of Muppets-abilia would be a dream job for anyone age five through 75. But it’s Karen Falk’s daily life, and has been for her two decades as the Henson Company’s director of archives. Hired by Jane Henson in 1992, shortly after Jim’s death, Falk began the long process of acquainting herself with the copious amount of Henson’s source material, sorting through all manner of sketches, notes, photos, props. Since the early aughts, Falk has concentrated on showcasing her studied expertise and eminent access for the worldwide fans of The Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and Henson’s fantastical film career. The work culminated in the Falk-curated Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, a Smithsonian-associated exhibit which traveled for five years, concluding early in 2012.
Now, in Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal, Falk shares her anthropological findings in a lovingly crafted and sequenced book of nearly 200 pages. "I’m really always looking for ways to share the material," Falk tells Co.Create. "We’re not a public collection; I’m not having people come and use the collection on any kind of regular basis. So for me to be able to do a book is just a huge opportunity to really get Jim’s story out there but really make all this wonderful material available as well."
Above, check out Co.Create’s series of images from Imagination Illustrated, along with Karen Falk’s commentary on the creative process behind the book, why Henson’s material remains so resonant, and how staggeringly prolific the puppeteer was. If that’s not enough for the most ardent Muppet-heads, check out Jim Henson’s Red Book, a blog Falk maintains from Henson’s 25-year journal of achievements and milestones, both personal and professional. The notebook’s incredibly comprehensive timeline pairs nicely with—and factors heavily into—Falk’s book.