Strings Attached Exhibit - Providence Children's Museum

Marionettes come to life at the hands of children in this unique look at the artistry of two Rhode Island puppet masters.


Children as young as five can appreciate the artistry of the two master puppeteers, Elizabeth "Betty" Huestis and Dan Butterworth, on display in Strings Attached.

Providence Children's Museum owns and cares for nearly 100 marionettes, props, stage set pieces, and memorabilia created by Betty Huestis. From 1929 through 1970 Miss Huestis, a life-long resident of Providence, and her marionette troupe entertained children and adults at parties, school programs, community events and, during World War II, war relief efforts. Miss Huestis lovingly crafted each of her soft-bodied marionettes, designed and created sets and props for her performances and wrote or adapted her own scripts. The marionettes portray a variety of characters - from a dashing Prince Charming and an elegant fairy tale princess to a ferocious fanged wolf and a loveable gray elephant - colorfully dressed in a wide variety of textiles. Some of the Huestis marionettes are on display in Strings Attached, along with images and information about Miss Huestis's life and art.

The marvelously animated marionettes, elaborate sets and amazing special effects of Dan Butterworth's performances are familiar to many Children's Museum visitors. For nearly 25 years Butterworth has created and performed with his beautifully costumed, hand-carved marionettes, appearing in film, television and live theater. Critically acclaimed, his artistry has delighted and amazed audiences of children and adults throughout North America and abroad. Strings Attached puts Butterworth marionettes in children's hands. Kids can operate the strings to make puppets dance and turn cranks to bring the set to life.

Some things to do in Strings Attached

Ages 5 and up:

  • Compare the marionettes in the two cases. What are the Huestis marionettes made of? What about the Butterworth marionettes? How else are they different? How are they alike?
  • Look at the scene in the Huestis marionette case. Make up a story about it.
  • Use the levers to make the Butterworth marionettes move. Which string makes the puppet wave its hand? Which one makes it tap its foot?
  • With a friend, use the Butterworth marionettes to put on a puppet show. Turn the cranks to make the background part of the action.

Other Exhibits:

Play Power | Water Ways | The Children's Garden |The Climber | Underland
Littlewoods | ThinkSpace | Coming to Rhode Island | Iway