{Germany} How to get to Sesame Street…

March 11, 2013


“You’ve never seen a street like Sesame Street. Everything happens here. You’re gonna love it!” (pilot episode)

Did you enjoy Friday’s post about the Sesame Street gang’s visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Invented and developed in the US by a team of psychologists, educators, advertising experts and television producers in 1969, Sesame Street has since grown to be one of the most popular and successful children’s television programmes of all time, broadcast in over 140 countries. One of the special formats of the programme is the production of country specific episode material – including native actors, local sets and the development of additional puppets – relating to children’s cultural experiences in the relevant countries.


In Germany, Sesame Street made its debut in 1973, and of course I watched it as a kid too before we moved to Scotland. So I was really excited to discover that the Deutsche Kinemathek: Museum fur Film und Fernsehen (Engl: Film & Television Museum) are currently showing a small exhibition to celebrate 40 years of German Sesame Street, with some of the original puppets on loan from the Sesame Workshop in New York. Appropriately, the exhibition is featured within the museum’s permanent exhibition about television.


Right in the museum’s entrance area, next to the ticket desk and the cloakroom, I was greeted by Samson the bear, lounging in his hammock. The initial episodes shown in Germany were actually just dubbed versions of the original US episodes, with more and more German features being introduced to replace the ‘Americanisms’. Eventually, episodes specifically for German television were produced, with a new street scene, new puppets and German actors. Samson was one of the puppets introduced in the first German episode broadcast in 1978.


Besides Samson, there were six other puppets on display, including the German puppets Tiffy, a pink bird-like girl who likes to collect snow globes; Rumpel, who replaced Oscar the Grouch after German parents complained that Oscar’s grumpy moods, bad language and love of dirt and garbage were a bad influence; and Feli Felu, a feisty reporter always on hand with her laptop to answer questions. Universal favourites Cookie Monster – known in German as Krümelmonster (‘Engl: ‘Crumb Monster’) – and Ernie & Bert were also present, with the latter being display puppets used for advertising whilst the others were actual puppets used on show.


Besides the puppets themselves, there is a selection of colourful costumes on display that were worn by German actors during guest appearances on the show, as well as a photo gallery. There’s also a small display of Sesame Street merchandise, from magazines and colouring books to puzzles and toys. One interesting feature of the display is two rubber duckies from 2007 and 1978 side by side (© The Jim Henson Company), showing how Ernie’s beloved bath time companion has changed over time – though possibly mislabeled by the museum as belong to Bert?


The exhibition itself is fairly small, but die hard Sesame Street fans should set a couple of hours aside (sadly I only had one) for the museum’s ‘Programmgalerie’, which has six booths with screens, keyboard and headphones where visitors can browse and watch archival material. For the duration of the exhibition, around 20 Sesame Street episodes have been added, including the first ever three episodes from the US, the first dubbed episode screened in Germany, and the first ever episode produced specifically  for German television. There are also four Sesame Street documentaries to watch, and even some hand puppets to play with including Ernie & Bert, Grover and Finchen, a snail featured in the German episodes.


“40 Jahre SESAMSTRASSE. Zu Gast im Museum für Film und Fernsehen” is showing until 5th May 2013.

, ,

6 Responses to “{Germany} How to get to Sesame Street…”

  1. Stacey @ Likes to Smile Says:

    Hello Fellow BYW Student!

    Aren’t the muppets incredible in person? I was able to see them when they were in NY at the Museum of Moving Image and was just blown away seeing my childhood friends in real life.


  2. Leah / Super Starling! Says:

    I think a part of my brain just exploded. I now want to watch every other country’s Sesame Street to see what characters I’m missing out on! (Or what characters were unpopular in other countries… it never occurred to me that another country would go so far as to oust Oscar!)


  3. Gumshoe Says:

    Wow! I would love to see a muppet in person! I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that Oscar was seen as a bad influence. I kind of love the Ernie rubber duckie that has the eyelashes!


    • jennifuchs Says:

      Yeah, poor old Oscar! We love him! One of the photos in last Friday’s post “Don’t Eat the Pictures” is actually of my son’s Oscar doll :-)


Leave a Reply