The idea for the commemorative dedication has been in the works for some time. Sculptors submitted ideas for the design shortly after the university finalized plans for the garden, and the final statue was chosen in December 2000.
Sculptors were given the same set of basic criteria to work with: Henson and Kermit seated on a bench. Little-known Maryland sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter, who is best known for his sculptures of Washington politicians, beat out the competition by presenting a small clay model depicting Henson and Kermit conversing on a bench.
"I think everyone else sort of had them in the traditional pose of Kermit sitting on Jim's shoulders," Carpenter said. "My idea was a little different. Jim always presented Kermit as a separate entity so I wanted to do that as well."
Carpenter said while his design has undergone minor adjustments, he maintained the same idea throughout the entire process. He said he hopes his current representation of the duo will "bring the whimsy of Henson's creativity into the process."
Henson's career began before he ever stepped foot onto the campus. He landed a puppetry job on a local television show and even though it failed, Henson's endeavors in puppetry had just begun.
He signed up for a puppetry class his freshman year at the university and by the time he was 22 and near graduation, Henson had earned an Emmy for his first show, Sam and Friends, and was successful enough to cruise up to his 1960 graduation ceremonies in a used Rolls Royce.
He was soon asked to create characters for a budding television show, Sesame Street. Henson crafted the much-adored Muppets, who would grace the stage of children's entertainment for years to come.