Don’t Eat the Pictures!

Does today’s blog title mean anything to you?

Were you a little kid in the 1980s? (or a parent of a little kid?)

Well, I was.

And, being a little kid in the 1980s, one of my favorite TV specials was a one-hour show entitled, “Don’t Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” I recently rediscovered this “masterpiece” and was really overjoyed to discover that some kind soul had uploaded the entire special to You Tube (split into eight parts)

According to Wikipedia, the 1983 special was released on video in 1987, which must explain why I remember it so dearly. We must have either taped it from the TV, or bought the video.

The plot is simple: the regular Sesame Street crew (including adults, kids and Muppets) visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Closing time arrives, however, and Big Bird still hasn’t found Mr. Snuffleupagus (who, at that point, was still thought of as being an imaginary friend.) While the Sesame Street gang meets in the lobby to head home, Big Bird wanders off to find Snuffy.

Big Bird is nowhere to be found.

The Museum closes.

It has one guard.

The guard isn’t really on top of things.

(Unlike the actual security staff. We were there at closing time last month and boy they make sure everyone is out.)

And…surprise, surprise, the Sesame Street crew gets locked into the Museum for the night.

What fun!

Some of my favorite scenes include:

Cookie Monster trying to eat the art (hence the title, “Don’t Eat the Pictures!”)

“See pretty statue, so smooth and so white
It look like ice cream–me long for a bite!
Me love to nibble–but me wouldn’t dream!
‘Cause no no no, me know the rules!
Statue for viewing, it not for chewing!”
(Lyrics thanks to

and Oscar the Grouch professing his love to the broken Roman and Greek statues (which I think is just brilliant):

“Busted and heavenly, of trash, you’re the star
Your arms have gone astray,
Your nose is far away,
And you’re beautiful, beautiful,
Just as you are.”

A large part of the plot focuses on Big Bird and Snuffy, who are trying to help a young Egyptian prince answer a riddle to become a star in the sky next to his parents. Even as a kid, I wanted less Egyptian prince and more Muppets looking at art. But what can you do?

“Don’t Eat the Pictures” has stood the test of time and I definitely recommend sharing it with today’s kids. I have a sneaky feeling that this special played a part in why I work in museums today.

Do you remember seeing this show?

2 thoughts on “Don’t Eat the Pictures!

  1. Hi there – just wanted to say nice blog, I’m enjoying reading your posts. I actually came across it because I’m working on a feature for my own museum blog about museums and the movies, which will also include ‘Please Don’t Eat the Pictures’ and was Googling around to confirm some details. Funnily enough, I’ve independently chosen the same two songs as my favourites, the Cookie Monster one because it explains the title, and the Grouch one because my son is called Oskar^^ It’s a great film!

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