Friday, October 7, 2016

PHOTO TOUR: Atlanta's Jaw-Dropping New Labyrinth Exhibit

I'm editing my next batch of Dragon Con cosplay, but since I'm preeeetty sure we'll be losing power in a few hours (THANKS HURRICANE MATTHEW), let's see if I can't take you on a tour of the new Labyrinth exhibit now instead.

This exhibit is at Atlanta's Center for Puppetry Arts, located just a few minutes from downtown Atlanta. They very kindly gave free admission to Dragon Con'ees during the con, so we rushed over that Saturday morning to gawk.

I think it's obvious by now that I am a HUGE Labyrinth fan, so this exhibit - though only 1,000 square feet - completely overwhelmed me with the feelz. It is beyond stunning, and put together with such pride, love, and attention to detail. (I took nearly 400 pictures, and culling those down to a post-appropriate number was torture, so expect a Flickr link at the end for the rest.)

But enough chatter. Let's step inside.

Where a Jareth cosplayer just happened to be walking through at the same time. Aw yeah.

The brick wall that confronts you immediately upon entering is beautifully water-streaked and glittery - just like the movie. To the right is this never-ending passage:

Thanks to a clever set photograph.

I didn't realize this 'til later, but most of the exhibit is laid out in roughly chronological order of the movie. So here by the wall you of course meet:

The Blue Worm! Say 'ello!

This is a large plaster casting, made from the same mold as the latex puppet. I love his little - or not so little! - face.

There were two worm puppets used for filming. See the tiny speck in the case on the left? That's the smaller one used for far shots with Sarah. Here's a close-up:

So tiny, but still - after 30 years! - so perfect.

(John and I attended a panel with the museum curators and designers, and I can tell you a LOT of work and care went into restoring and displaying these treasures. Hats off, CPA crew. You rocked it.)

Throughout the exhibit there are multiple, ORIGINAL, Brian Froud illustrations:

So, so beautiful. I nearly got nose grease on the glass. The details!

Next a peek inside Sarah's bedroom :


Now, the Firey doll I've seen recreated a few times, or even sold on Etsy - but how many of you have see this Ludo doll?!

He has so little screen time in the movie it's really easy to miss him - but look how cute. 
Man, I need to learn how to sew.

And who can forget the laughing goblin Sarah uncovers in Toby's crib?

Right away I discovered something fascinating: almost all of the goblins have actual red reflectors in their eyes. They caught the light and glowed - hard to show in photos, but creepy magic in person.

Speaking of which, across from the toys is a large display of a few more goblin characters:

Check out the face in his armored chest plate. There were more faces in his shoulder pauldrons.

Glass displays everywhere  - which made it an uphill battle against glare and reflections. 

I should warn you now - if you haven't already figured it out - that many of my photos are close-ups of creepy things. If you find goblin puppets disturbing, then, This is not the waaaay! TAKE HEED, AND GO NO FURTHER.

Still with me? Cool. Then check this out:

Look at the paint job of Fish Face's face. All the colors!

Next is another large plaster cast - even larger than I expected:

Hoggle's head was huge!

Next to Hoggle is the goblin John and I were most keen to see, of course:

The Junk Lady. (!!)

If you don't recognize her, you're not alone; she looks so different from the movie I can't help but wonder if she's a different Junk Person, since there were several in the film. None of her original junk pile survived; that's just a printed back drop behind her. They've also replaced her hair and clothes with more modern pieces - the shirt in particular is way off - and one eye is sealed shut, I assume from latex damage.

But if the puppet herself was a smidge sad, then here's what made up for it:

The original Brian Froud illustration of Agnes. ::drooooool::

Round the corner - and right at the halfway mark of the exhibit - is the ballroom display:

Again, astounding details:


The textures and colors often behaved very differently on film - showing up brighter or more vivid - so I have a new appreciation for costumers now.

Jareth's Escher Room costume:

 This piece looked solid black in the movie, so I'm not sure if it's lighter from age or if the movie set was just dark:

Check out the bone chest piece in the shape of a heart! And see his pendant at the bottom? Wow, has that metal tarnished.

This huge original sketch of the ballroom scene caught my eye. It's pretty, but also, if you look close, I'm preeeetty sure one of the ladies is drawn with her boobs out:

It's the first figure on the right. (Click to embiggen.)

That's probably not (just?) a doodle prank; the ballroom scene was always meant to evoke a lascivious, "adult" gathering. (Note the center pit full of giant pillows.)

Of course there were no nipples out in the costuming, but you might remember this "side boob" window with dangling pearl:
And more stunning details:

That feather fan was particularly creepy.

Remember how I said some of the colors changed on film? This mask was dingy and dull in person, then I took the pic, and BAM:

Even 30 years later, those reds and oranges really pop. And I like the little iridescent stones.

My favorite mask:

The blood red "tears" still gleamed like they were freshly wet.

The dagger-handed clock from Jareth's castle:

I'd love to make a smaller version of this someday. (It's pretty massive; took up the whole wall.)

Which brings us to the final display aisle:

All goblins and their weaponry. (Again, chronological to the movie: we start with the wall, and end with the goblin battle.)  

Oh, and see the arrow in the carpet? As if drawn with Sarah's lipstick, perhaps? :D

More crazy detail: this is the head of a goblin's staff:

It even has nose hairs. (Ew.)

For reference, here's the staff next to a goblin costume maybe four feet tall:

 Beautiful rusty velvet and chain mail:
I'm not sure how much of this is actual age and how much is from the film.

Something a little unnerving:

You had to look very closely to see these eyes, gleaming back at you. Hehehe.

Here's the rest of that armor:
Most of this is real leather and real metal, which explains why it looks so darn gorgeous.

A funky mosquito mask:

And the holy grail at the end of the aisle:


John and I (briefly) considered trying to do this costume before we settled on Agnes. I love these riders so much, and naturally this one - the orange one - is my favorite!


And a full view:

The last display before you exit is this crystal ball, set in a stand fashioned after Jareth's pendant:

 The display is mirrored so you can see all sides. Here's the back:

Jim Henson commissioned a handful of these to be made for some key workers on the film, plus one more for himself. This is his personal one. The plaque reads simply, "Jim" and "Labyrinth."

Look even closer, though, and you'll see something stunning on the front left leg of the stand:
A tiny face! 

I don't know the significance of this face, if any - so if you know, please share in the comments.

And there's one final surprise before you leave: if you crouch down to the height of a child in front of the crystal ball, you'll find a surprise tucked up high in the display case:

A hidden Jareth!

Ahh, but we're not quite finished, folks, because Puppetry Arts has MORE Labyrinth goodies in their main exhibit areas. These aren't new, but if you've never visited, you definitely want to keep scrolling. 

Really, I'm telling the truth! This one guy here, though...

He always lies.

The glass glare is soooo much worse out in the larger, brightly-lit main areas, but I did my best:

In addition to the riddle-loving doormen, they also have one of the door knockers and...

Sir Didymus!

Look how bright his colors still are. Such incredible workmanship.

I'll end with this little cannonball goblin, because I love him:

I once saw an Etsy seller offering a replica of this guy, and I'm sorely tempted to try making my own someday. The little stripey arms! Hee!

There is SO much more to see at Atlanta's Center for Puppetry Arts, including screen-used Dark Crystal puppets, the whole gang from Sesame Street, Fraggles, Doozers, and all manner of characters to make your inner child screech with joy. If you're ever in the area, GO. 'Til then, I did take pictures of quite of few of these others, plus lots more detail shots of the Labyrinth exhibit itself, so check out my Flickr album for the rest.

Hope you all enjoyed my little - or not so little - virtual tour! And if I don't get to post again for a few days, have an awesome weekend, and I'll see ya on the other side of the storm.


  1. I thought my son was finally old enough to watch and have some appreciation for Labyrinth. He really enjoyed it, was completely engaged and then asked "Is this the first movie ever made in color?" I had to laugh and explain that I am not that old. :)

  2. How have I never seen this movie? I'm a HUGE Dark Crystal fan, so I'm just not sure how I could have missed this. Off to Amazon to order a copy!

  3. Us Costumers and Designers thank you for acknowledging our work. As for the black jacket - black is a tough fabric color to maintain over time and the one color that is the hardest to match. It is all about the dyes and other colors that go into making black. Add in the lighting and you get faded color. But it is still beautiful after 30 years.

  4. I really really want to go to Atlanta right now!

  5. You should really loan them your Agnes!

  6. Everything still looks amazing!!! Oh, I wish I go!

  7. When you toured the "Sarah's Bedroom" portion of the exhibit, was there any mention or reference to the Jareth doll? It didn't get a lot of screentime either, and it was really only in frame at the very edges for the most part (I believe it was displayed on Sarah's vanity in the movie).

    However, I covet that doll. I would so love to either buy a replica, or make my own... I've never been happy with the screenshots I've grabbed from the movie as references, however. Taking my own reference photos would be one more reason to head to Atlanta...

    Anyway, thanks for the post and Flickr set. This is an awesome exhibit!

  8. This post! I loves it! Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies.

  9. The Center For Puppetry Arts is one of my favorite things from when I lived in Atlanta. I went to so many shows and classes there.

    It truly is a wonderful place.

  10. Film costumes can look so different in real life. I'm still so happy to have seen many, mostly thanks to friends who became costumers themselves so I came along to shows over the years. Out West, a great opportunity is Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown LA. Every spring, free exhibit with costumes from the previous year's movies including often the Oscar nominees. It was there I saw a special exhibit of Debbie Reynold's personal vast collection including Singing in the Rain. It was sad when she couldn't find a buyer and had to start breaking up the collection to sell :(

    Back to Labyrinth, I remember just loving Sarah's outfit beside all the crazy fantasy looks.

  11. That one shot of the crystal ball in the stand, that is probably the clearest shot we have of the design on Jareth's amulet! I am in the midst of sculpting one and I could only find blurry, ambiguous shots of the amulet. It's interesting to see how different the design is from my interpretation (though that means I have to start over, dang-it!)

    Super jealous to not be able to see it in person, but I'm super grateful to see your photos. As soon as I heard you had gone I was eagerly awaiting your photos, I knew they would be great (And super useful to use as reference!).

  12. I love John reflected in the handle of the dagger-handed clock!

  13. Totally cool!!! I'm hearing the movie beckoning...unfortunately, my copy is VHS. Gotta update my collection.

    Hope you don't have too many disruptions from the storm.

  14. Ok, so first thought while scrolling through was how *your* junk lady looks so authentic that people think it's the original, and here the original doesn't even look like herself, and how that's kind of cool.

    Then I stopped and went back and looked at your Agnes and the Atlanta Agnes....and now I'm thinking Atlanta Agnes just....looks like she's 30 years older. Like her hair and face just aged "normally." And then I decided it was getting to creepy to think about so I kept scrolling.

    Thanks for sharing! I obviously need to make it to Atlanta one of these days.

  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. Here I was thinking that while I'm a fan of many things, I had no true passion for one in particular. I had forgotten about my desperate love of Labyrinth...maybe just because it is so ingrained in me! I'm embarrassed to admit my reactions to the pictures. Everything from jealous squealing to goosebumps. And now I think I have a movie I need to watch!

  16. I was kind of hoping that the original Hoggle had made it down there. Guess it is still stuck as a guest of the New York Port Authority. (Who found it in some unclaimed luggage or something.) Oh well.

  17. What a terrific collection! I need to plan a trip to Atlanta to see these.

  18. As I was reading this post, I remembered my husband had mentioned the other day that he'd never seen it. I wonder if Amazon saw a bump in people ordering the movie (hopefully through your link) after this post :)

  19. I really need to show this to my kiddos, the movie I mean. So I can prod everyone into a visit to this! lol I may need to make that clock myself, I've got tall enough walls to do a big one. *starts husbands going to say Not AGaiiin.

  20. I so want to get down there but it hasn't worked out yet. I don't know what they have at the Harry Potter World as far as exhibits, but did you see the Harry Potter exhibit that toured a little several years back? I was shocked to see that Voldemort's cape from the resurrection scene in Goblet of Fire was actually almost a sage green, where it looks black in the movie. If it was just black, it would have looked flat on screen, where the green didn't look green with the lighting and film tint but showed up with more texture and shadow\highlight than black would have. I don't know if that's what happened with some of these pieces, or how much of it is from age, but I think those kinds of tricks are really cool.

    1. The color change is due to the lighting designer and what colors they used.
      It is possible for them to take a red & white barber stripe jacket and make it all red or black & white. Hence the need for both designers to talk A LOT about colors and textures.

  21. I went there a few week ago and it was great!

    FYI the Georgia Public Library System offers a free family pass to the Puppetry Center to anyone with a Georgia library card. They also have a Georgia Parks annual pass and a family pass to get into Zoo Atlanta. Check out your local library to check out these free passes!

  22. These are beautiful! Thank you for sharing! I've been wanting/planning on making the dagger hand clock for a couple years now, one of these days I'll get it done.

  23. We live in Atlanta, and we went to this exhibit yesterday. It is outstanding! The Jim Hensen collection was wonderful, too - I was especially excited to see EmmettOtter and some characters from Muppet Treasure Island.

  24. Fantastic post - I was at DragonCon but missed the exhibit. Super sad I did now...

    A quick suggestion: have you checked on apolarizing filter for your lens? It does wonders for removing glass glare.

  25. unless they have taken down the display, Unclaimed Freight in Alabama ( )has Hoggle in a display case in the entrance to the store!

  26. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I NEED to go to Atlanta! There's a chance I'll miss the exhibit, but your thoroughness will be here on the internet forever so I can always reference back. Thank you for spreading the word and sharing some of it!

    1. The Labyrinth exhibit is scheduled to be there through September 2017 so hopefully you can make it! It and the whole center is wonderful.

  27. I live in Atlanta -- have all my life -- and have only been to the CFPA once when I was in elementary school. Me thinks I need to remedy that soon. Wow. I had no idea!

  28. I know your going to hate me, but i really dislike Labyrinth,Princess Bride too, the whole hairy weirdness is just NOT my thing.

  29. This made me unbelievably happy today.
    Thanks for sharing these pics! I was hoping to find The Wiseman amongst the pics. He's my favorite. "It's so stimulating being your hat!"

    --Piper P from Washington State

  30. Thank you for posting this! I love Brian Froud's work and I'm so happy he and Jim Henson were able to work together - their visions were so well matched. Your photos are incredible.


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