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The Norman Hetherington collection, which includes beloved children’s television puppet Mr Squiggle and his friends, has landed in Canberra after being acquired by the National Museum.

Image of a puppet with a pencil for a nose - click to view larger image
Mr Squiggle, 1959

Norman Hetherington was an artist, performer and puppeteer – and the creator of television’s Mr Squiggle.

The puppet with a pencil for a nose and his friends, including Blackboard, Rocket, Bill Steamshovel and Gus the Snail, entertained and delighted countless Australian children over the show’s 40-year history.

The National Museum of Australia has acquired more than 800 objects from Hetherington’s extensive archive of artworks, scripts, sets and puppets.

Your donation to the 2024 Annual Appeal will enable us to care for this unique collection and share it with the world.

Donate now

Mr Squiggle and Rocket were on show at the National Museum from 29 April to 16 May 2024. A larger exhibition featuring more of Mr Squiggle’s friends is in development.

Norman Hetherington

Norman Hetherington (29 May 1921 – 6 December 2010) was one of the most significant figures in 20th century Australian cultural life.

Hetherington’s creative career spanned the heyday of commercial art, the contribution of theatrical performance to morale during the Second World War, and the development of a distinctively Australian puppetry movement.

Present at the birth of Australian television, Hetherington was a major participant in its growth over more than 50 years.

Generations of Australian children were delighted and inspired to draw by Mr Squiggle, one of the nation’s longest-running and most beloved television series, and thousands more were entertained by Hetherington’s theatrical performances, television productions and live puppet shows.

Black and white photo of Rebecca and Norman Hetherington with the puppet Mr Squiggle - click to view larger image
Rebecca and Norman Hetherington with Mr Squiggle, 1980s

Mr Squiggle at the Museum

Mr Hetherington’s daughter, known to many Australians as ‘Miss Rebecca’, was the last presenter of the show and cared for her father’s archive before offering it to the National Museum of Australia to establish the Norman Hetherington collection.

Katherine McMahon, National Museum director, 2024:

‘We are grateful and humbled by Rebecca Hetherington’s decision to entrust this treasured collection to the care of the National Museum. The acquisition will become a highlight of the National Historical Collection and will be cherished by us and the rest of the country,’ Ms McMahon said.

Read the media release.

Digitised records for the collection are being added to the Museum’s website.

Nicky and Noodle, 1950s

Mr Squiggle (detail), 1959. All image credits: National Museum of Australia

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