At Age 40, Sesame Street Is Still Sunny

Posted November 13, 2009 at 3:51pm

It seems there are still no cloudy days in sight for Sesame Street.

The beloved children’s show that’s been sweeping the clouds away since 1969 turned 40 last week with the launch of a new photography exhibit in Union Station.

Focusing on Sesame Street’s global reach, the small exhibit consists of three panels of photographs depicting different versions of Sesame Street abroad. Some highlights include a photograph of Kami, the HIV-positive South African muppet who was introduced in 2002, and a green Mexican version of Big Bird. Other displays depict muppets such as Telly Monster in developing countries like Indonesia, India and Egypt and include text focusing on the show’s literary and basic learning components.

“We’re working on really serious and important issues like global health, literacy and girls’ education in different parts of the world,— said Gary Knell, president and CEO of the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the show. “When you go around the world and see these different [versions], you really see a huge impact.—

“Joan Ganz Cooney always says that when she created Sesame Street she thought she was creating the quintessential American show,— said Sherrie Westin, executive vice president of Sesame Workshop. “Little did she know it’s had this incredible universal appeal.—

Sesame Street took off almost immediately abroad — with international versions launching in countries like Germany and Mexico within a year of the show’s domestic debut, Westin said.

At a reception last week for the opening of the exhibit, the highlight of the night — even for the mostly adult crowd — were the two Sesame Street muppets in attendance, Elmo and Telly. Lines to meet both snaked through Union Station’s Main Hall.

When asked if this was his first visit to D.C., Elmo replied: “No no no. Elmo’s been here lots with his mommy and daddy. Especially cherry blossom time.—

The exhibit will run through Nov. 30.