2022 Marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Valentinetti Puppet Museum, then a division of Evergreen Children's Theatre, originally founded by the late Marshall Campbell (1941-2013). Prior to Campbell's move to California, the Board learned of Kitsap native, Stanley Hess's return to the NW, after a 30-year career in Art Museum libraries including the Seattle Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art and concluding as head Librarian of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. Thus began Hess's career as VPM's founding curator.
While not a puppeteer, Hess did take several puppet classes at UW in the early 1960's from Aurora Valentinetti. Upon graduation from the university, he began a near decade long career at the SAM. Living near Volunteer Park, Hess joined the choir of St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, then under the direction of the late organist/choir master, Peter Hallock. Valentinetti was also a choir member. And thus began a lifelong friendship that continues to this day.
During the early years, Hess spent much time accessioning and cataloging, not only the VPM's collection, but also making occasional trips to Seattle and Palm Springs working on Campbell's and Valentinetti's collections. In the intervening years, the VPM collections have grown to over 2,000 from all over the world, representing over 30 nations. The VPM has been recognized with four international gifts, several in which the Lt. Governor, Brad Owen, came and accepted them on the museum's behalf. Two major gifts were received from China, one from Bremerton's Sister-City Kure, Japan, and most recently, one from Thailand. As the museum has no funds to purchase items, it is indebted to more than 150 individuals and organizations that have donated.
It has been goal of the curator to elevate the study and enjoyment of puppetry beyond a mere child's toy, so often the popular notion of what a puppet is. Puppetry as a form of communication has existed since the dawn of time, pre-dating the written word. Elsewhere in the Museum's displays you will find suggestions of how the use and study of puppetry might be used. Look for “Beyond STEM, the importance of the Arts.” Other attempts to incorporate puppetry in the educational context is our draft of an educational guide on the use of the museum's Mexican collections connected to language, culture, history, and geography. As one wanders through the museum, you will notice the expanded labels and the occasional use of local language names.
The collections of the Valentinetti Puppet Museum are a tremendous untapped resource, not only educational, from infants to college and beyond, but the museum has great potential as an economic generator for the city of Bremerton and Kitsap County. The collections of the museum include items that would be the envy of museums around the world!
Thank you for reading. Won’t you support the Museum today with your membership or donations and help it to live into its potential?
Yamasong: March of the Hollows comes to the Valentinetti Puppet Museum!
Sam Koji Hale is an award-winning artist and puppet filmmaker. He is the recipient of the 2014 UNIMA Citation of Excellence and DragonCon's 2010 Best Animated Film for the fantasy short film "Yamasong", a Handmade Puppet Dreams (HMPD) film. Sam has produced over 20 puppet short films for the HMPD film series created by Heather Henson's IBEX Puppetry Inc.
Sam recently wrote, directed and designed the all-puppet fantasy feature film "Yamasong: March of the Hollows", released in the spring of 2019. Sam has nearly two decades of animation and puppet film experience, working for Cartoon Network, Disney Jr, Disney XD, and Amazon Prime.
"Yamasong: March of the Hollows"
Watch the official sizzle trailer HERE:
LA Times writes - "Director Sam Koji Hale brings a vivid imagination and rich visual texture to the screen... the look of 'Yamasong' is enough to recommend it. The puppetry's lo-fi but remarkably expressive, with craftsmanship and design that puts most computer animation to shame."
Bremerton Mayor Honors Valentinetti & Museum Curator
On September 24, 2011 the Board of AVPM/ECT hosted a public celebration in honor of the 90th birthday of Aurora Valentinetti and the launching of the Fall Season of programs, exhibits and performances. About 50 supporters, friends, family and former students gathered to honor the Museum's namesake for her 50 years of teaching and influence in the field of puppetry and children's theatre. Some of the former students Valentinetti had not seen in decades. Highlights of the afternoon were the surprise presentations by Bremerton Mayor, Patty Lent of two awards. One presented to Aurora Valentinetti and a second award to Museum Curator, Stanley Hess.
A carefully guarded secret by the event planners was the presentation by the Mayor of a second award to the Museum Curator, Stanley Hess.
The award to Valentinetti:
"Mayor & City Council Appreciation Award presented to Aurora Valentinetti.
We would like to recognize the long time commitment you have made to the City of Bremerton from your first donation of marionettes, hand puppets, rod puppets and more that equal the 1,000 unit collection enjoyed by children and adults today. The culture you have introduced not only is a visual showcase, but your Evergreen Children's Theatre provided education and entertainment for residence and visitors from around the world. This award is presented as we appreciate your contributions and celebrate your 90th birthday.
Patty Lent, Mayor
Will Maupin, City Council President"
Curator Stanley Hess was especially moved that his 101 year old mother, Kathryne Hess was present to witness the event. Without her support of the curator, the Museum would probably not be celebrating its 12th anniversary.
The award to Hess:
"Mayor's Citizen Recognition Award Presented to Stanley Hess:
For your outstanding dedication and service to the City of Bremerton through the promotion, marketing and expansion of the Aurora Valentinetti Puppet Museum. You have continued to expose awareness of the Museum on the national and global level. Your recognition in Cambridge Who's Who enhances your position in our community. Thank you for an excellent contribution and continued caring of an important cultural asset for the citizens throughout the State.
Signed: Patty Lent, Mayor"
MUSEUM CURATOR HONORED
Stanley W. Hess, founding Museum Curator of the Aurora Valentinetti Puppet Museum, has been honored by the international directory Cambridge Who' s Who 2011-2012 as a Professional of the Year representing "Educational Theatre Arts". Hess has a long history of museum service primarily in library and visual resources within the art museum field. His career has included the Seattle Art Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Nelson-Adkins Museum (Kansas City, MO). The latter he served as Head Librarian during a pivotal period of that institution's history. Upon returning to his home town community, Hess continued his support of many local non-profits, having served on the Board of the Kitsap County Historical Society & Museum, as well as serving on the Board of Evergreen Children's Theatre and as founding Museum Curator of the Aurora Valentinetti Puppet Museum.