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Puppets and movie decorations. The work of Tim Burton is again in Prague. And it’s breathtaking

An exhibition in Prague’s Municipal House recapitulates the artistic career of director Tim Burton, a master of monstrous beauty spanning more than fifty years. It is called Returns and includes almost six hundred works, including storyboards, sketches, scenography, puppets and photographs. They come from film classics such as Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands and Tim Burton’s Stolen Christmas, as well as contemporary author films. The exhibition will be open to viewers from May 1 to September 30.

Exhibition Tim Burton – Returns.

| Video: Diary/Radek Cihla

Works by an American artist and director Tim Burton was seen in Prague ten years ago at the House U Kamenného zvon. The Return exhibition now offers a brand new concept and at the same time follows on from a worldwide tour that delighted visitors to the world’s best museums and galleries, including the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl, the Mori Art Gallery in Tokyo and the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico.

From Pee-wee to Wednesday

The current exhibition commemorates Burton’s initial struggles as an animator through Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, followed by the comic book classic Batman about the bat-man with the central pair of Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson only after the fulfillment of all dreams in the last pictures.


Among the little ladies, clothing with the character Wednesday from the Adams family is currently leading the way.

The girls want to be dressed as the character Wednesday, for the boys Spiderman leads the way

After all, for example, in the series Wednesday, shown on Netflix, he could once again introduce characters already known from the Addams family. He used his unmistakable style to redefine them as he directed four of the eight episodes. Not to mention the remake of Dumbo, a fairytale story about the courage to stand up to injustice and the discovery of one’s own abilities, or Miss Peregrine’s Orphanage for Peculiar Children, offering the opportunity to peek under the hood of a mysterious place full of strange beings and supernatural events. And then there is the movie Big Eyes, which tells the true story of one of the biggest art frauds of the 1950s.

Skeletons and umpalumps

“Among many drawings, paintings and collages, you will also find puppets and film decorations at the exhibition. Get ready for ‘attacking Martians’, skeleton-dancers from The Dead Bride and umpalumps from Karlík and the Chocolate Factory, complemented by other sculptures of fantastic, albeit not-yet-film characters,” Kateřina Riley from Art Movement, who is responsible for organizing the exhibition, invites you to view the exhibition .

Opening of the exhibition Tim Burton - Returns.  The exhibition will last from May 1 to September 30 and you can see it in the Grégro Hall of the Municipal House at 5 Republiky Square in Prague.Opening of the exhibition Tim Burton – Returns. The exhibition will last from May 1 to September 30 and you can see it in the Grégro Hall of the Municipal House at 5 Republiky Square in Prague.Source: Diary/Radek Cihla

The non-traditional installation of puppets for the exhibition was jointly devised by the owner Czech lion Jan Bubeníček and architect Martina Kárová belong to heaven for the film Mice. “We enclosed the individual puppets in spheres with peepholes, so until you find the right hole, you can see almost nothing. Which is very brave, but on the other hand, it helps the puppets as such, because a movie puppet needs its own light, its environment, just like theater decorations, and then suddenly it lights up. When you stick her in the daylight, she’s beautiful too, but she’s just made to be lit. In those spheres, we tried to create a kind of infinite space, so visitors will feel as if they are looking somewhere deep, into a cutout. I think they will have a unique experience,” noted Bubeníček.

Treasure hunts

Among others, Brandi Pomfretová from Tim Burton Productions and the artist’s collaborator. “Tim is a fascinating person, we have been working together for fifteen years, I manage his archives. He is an even greater artist than anyone could imagine. Everything about him is interesting, for example he remembers everything. For example, he will say: ‘I want to find such and such a picture or drawing, it is thirty years old and I made it on my wedding day.’ He will describe the exact drawing, and then my colleagues and I will go on a treasure hunt. And after we find her, she looks exactly like he said. Tim Burton generally sees the exhibition as an extension of his films. When visitors see how it is installed, they will be surprised. I’m grateful for what a new concept she got,” said Pomfret.


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If she had to choose one of the many presented works that is closest to her heart, it would be a difficult task, because they all have a special meaning for her. “But if I had to pick one, it would be Tim Burton’s earliest work called Flying Saucer and Aliens. He painted it when he was fourteen years old. It was when he was still in school and his teachers told him that he could never become an artist because he couldn’t draw. And if he wants to be an artist, he has to paint like a master,” Pomfret explained. “Tim Burton chose Hieronymus Bosch as his role model because he liked his cool style. We can still see that inspiration in his work today – winged figures, bulging eyeballs and the like. When I look at The Flying Saucer and Aliens again and again, I imagine a fourteen-year-old Tim Burton, who at the time had no idea that this very work would one day be exhibited as part of his retrospective,” she added.

Beetlejuice on stage and in the cinema

Among others, the Karlín Music Theater is a proud partner of the exhibition, which is preparing the premiere of the musical adaptation of Burton’s film Beetlejuice by Scott Brown, Anthony King and composer and lyricist Eddie Perfecto for November. The story itself is taken to the next level by imaginative scenography, costumes and lighting effects, which are behind the renowned light designer with decades of experience on Broadway, the American Ken Billington. He collaborates with his compatriot, director Gabriel Barr, and the international team is also completed by British scenographer Dave Benson.

Source: Diary/Radek Cihla

In addition, the viewer’s emotions will be attacked by energetic expressive music supported by new sound equipment. “We pulled off a real hussar stunt – we got the license for this hot hit before London. The Czech premiere will be in Prague only eight years after the Broadway premiere,” said the producer of the Czech version, Egon Kulhánek. The piece is expected to become the musical event of the year. In addition, it will follow the world premiere of Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, again directed by Tim Burton, which is scheduled to take place on September 6.

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