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Puppets of Asia at the MSU Museum

May 12th, 2010 by insideout

When next at our Lansing bed and breakfast, take time to visit the MSU Museum. Now through November 7, 2010, Sticks, Strings and Shadows: Puppets of Asia is on display in the Ground Floor Gallery.

Delicate, ornate Asian puppets at the MSU museum.

These elegant, slender marionettes are part of a recently acquired collection at the Michigan State University Museum. Dorris Neilson of Avoca, Michigan, collected the puppets over the course of twenty years. Among other items, in Indonesia she found shadow puppets, in Sri Lanka and Myanmar (formerly Burma) she acquired string marionettes, and in Indonesia she picked up a rod puppet. Ms. Neilson was a school teacher; she carefully documented her travels and acquisition so that she could share them with her students. The MSU Museum has greatly benefited from her thoroughness.

Puppet shows are an important part of the cultures of many Asian cultures. Indeed, according to MSU Museum Curator of History Val Roy Berryman, many countries “have traditionally afforded puppet shows the same level of importance as opera, legitimate theatre and other forms of entertainment. Puppet and marionette shows have also helped to preserve and present the legends, myths and histories of the various countries of Asia”. The current exhibition is a feast for the eyes. Many puppets and marionettes wear elaborate traditional costumes, while shadow puppets from China, Cambodia, Bali and Indonesia are simple, delicate creations of wood or rawhide.

The MSU Museum is on the MSU campus in East Lansing. It is open daily and is free of charge (though donations are encouraged). Spend an afternoon delighting in the puppets and marionettes after a delicious lunch at our Lansing bed and breakfast.

For more information about the exhibit, please visit the MSU museum website.

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