Wooden marionette wearing a green velvet suit and bow tie

Object Details

William N. Buckner
wood, paper-mâché, cotton, paint, string, wire, nails
Puppet: 22 7/16 × 7 1/2 × 3 9/16 in. (57 × 19 × 9 cm)
From first controller to feet of puppet: 63 3/4 in. (162 cm)
Cite As
Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution
William N. Buckner, Jr. (1888-1984) made this formally dressed marionette using woodworking skills honed at M Street High School, a preeminent school for African Americans in Washington, DC’s segregated public schools. The twelve-string wooden marionette wears a white shirt under his dark green velvet suit, accented by a blue-and-white plaid bow tie and brown shoes. Initially, he might have worn a hat atop his paper-mâché head, painted, like his hands, a deep brown. Buckner continued to use puppetry as a teaching tool in his forty-seven years as an educator in District schools. For example, a dwarf puppet (nmah_662361) made by Buckner’s students at Armstrong Vocational High School and the accompanying script (nmah_1982643) from their performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are in the collection of the National Museum of American History. The dwarf puppet went on to star in “Puppets and Things on Strings,” a Smithsonian exhibition whose opening coincided with the World Puppetry Festival in June 1980. In keeping with his well-dressed marionette, Buckner wore a tuxedo accented with a carnation to the exhibition opening, an event that drew puppeteers from around the world to Washington, DC.
Accession Number
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
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Anacostia Community Museum
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