Almost every child has a love for puppets — and At the Puppetry Arts Institute in Independence, Missouri, you can watch that love come to life.
My kids and I road tripped to Kansas City, MO, and spent the day touring Independence. On our list was the Puppetry Arts Institute. At the time, I was not sure how well this would go over–especially for my young son of age 4 and his limited patience–but 10 minutes into our stop I was proven wrong!
Upon arriving at the Puppetry Arts Institute, we had the opportunity to learn a bit of the history behind the institute from Hazelle Harriet Hedges Rollins, the woman originally behind all the puppets. Hazelle began a small puppet company in Kansas City in 1932 that became the largest puppet factory in the world. The factory made marionettes, hand puppets, and finger puppets until the 1980s, when it closed. Inside the museum, you can see many of the puppets that were produced at the factory.
The highlight of our visit was making our own puppets. The Puppetry Arts Institute offers workshops that allow children (or adults) to get hands-on experience making their own puppet. The session takes 30-60 minutes; you choose your puppet, paint your puppet, and give your puppet a body. Children over the age of 12 can also make their own Hazelle clown marionette; however, these take 3-4 hours and can take a bit of patience.
The institute also hosts monthly puppet shows that are suitable for all ages. Visit here for their schedule of shows and upcoming events.