The Anacostia Community Museum will be closed from January 8, 2024-March 22, 2024. We will reopen on Saturday, March 23, 2024 with our next exhibition, A Bold and Beautiful Vision: A Century of Black Arts Education in Washington, DC,1900-2000. We hope you will join us! 

Wooden marionette without clothes

Object Details

William N. Buckner
paper-mâché, wood, cotton, paint, string, wire, nails
Puppet: 23 5/8 × 5 1/8 × 3 3/4 in. (60 × 13 × 9.5 cm)
From first controller to feet of puppet: 64 3/16 in. (163 cm)
Cite As
Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution
To make this marionette, William N. Buckner, Jr. (1888-1984) used skills honed at M Street High School, an African American public school with a national reputation for educational excellence in Washington, DC’s then-segregated system. The quality of both art and carpentry instruction at M Street is evident in the finely-crafted marionette, which is almost two feet tall. A wooden hand-controller connects eight strings to the wood, cotton, and paper-mâché marionette, stretching its total operating height to over five feet. The puppet’s intuitive construction testifies to Buckner’s woodworking expertise, and his written directions on the controller provide an instructor’s guidance, foretelling his career as an educator. Equally clear are Buckner’s artistic abilities, apparent in the puppet’s painted facial features and auburn hair. Buckner taught carpentry in the District’s public schools and eventually served as principal of two vocational high schools.
After retiring as Armstrong Vocational High School’s principal in 1957, Buckner continued to exercise his love of art through a range of media, including silversmithing and photography. He also offered his professional experience to aid future students and educators, serving, for example, on the search committee for the District’s new school superintendent in 1970. This marionette is one of five in the Anacostia Community Museum’s Collection, four of which were displayed in an exhibition honoring M Street Principal Anna J. Cooper from February 1981 to September 1982.
Accession Number
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
Data Source
Anacostia Community Museum
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