Mr Squiggle has landed at the National Museum of Australia

AAR NMA Hetherington Collection photo by Jason McCarthyThe beloved children’s television puppet Mr Squiggle and his friends Blackboard, Rocket, Bill Steamshovel and Gus the Snail, have landed in Canberra after being acquired by the National Museum of Australia, 65 years after first airing on Australian television.

With a pencil for a nose, Mr Squiggle delighted generations of children with his impromptu drawings and cheerful banter. The original Mr Squiggle marionette and more than 800 related objects, including fellow puppets, artworks, scripts, costumes, props, sets, production notes, merchandise and audio-visual material, have joined the National Historical Collection.

The extraordinary collection captures the life’s work of Norman Hetherington, master puppeteer, cartoonist, artist and performer who was the genius and the voice behind the characters who featured in Mr Squiggle and Friends.

Katherine McMahon, Director of the National Museum, expressed her own excitement at the arrival of the collection. Mr Squiggle was a feature of my childhood and I, along with generations of Australian children, was enchanted and inspired to draw by Mr Squiggle, who starred in one of the nation’s longest running and most beloved television series,” said Ms McMahon.

We can’t wait to share the collection with Australia and give grandparents and parents the opportunity to revisit their childhoods and share their memories with today’s little ones,” added Ms McMahon.

Ms McMahon paid tribute to Mr Hetherington’s daughter, known to many Australians as ‘Miss Rebecca’. Ms Hetherington was the last presenter of the show and led the decision to establish the Norman Hetherington collection at the National Museum.

“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,” said Ms McMahon.

“I’m so happy that my father’s collection has found a home at the National Museum of Australia so that it can stay together and retain its character and significance,” said Rebecca Hetherington. “My father was one of a kind. He combined unceasing artistic energy and creativity with technical ingenuity, an amazing work ethic, whimsy, kindness, humour and a wonderful imagination.”

Dr Sophie Jensen, Senior Curator at the National Museum, who worked with Ms Hetherington over several years to bring this collection together, welcomed the acquisition. The Norman Hetherington collection is an extremely significant addition to the National Historical Collection,” said Dr Jensen.

“The range of the collection items offers a fascinating glimpse into one of the most original and creative minds our country has produced. Norman Hetherington delighted and inspired generations of Australians.”

“The richness, diversity and magic of this collection is a direct reflection of Hetherington’s particular genius. We are looking forward to bringing all of this to light as we research and document the collection and make it available for everyone to enjoy,” said Dr Jensen.

Mr Squiggle and Rocket will be 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. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Daughter of Norman Hetherington and former Mr Squiggle and Friends presenter, Rebecca Hetherington alongside Mr Squiggle, Bill Steamshovel and Gus the Snail – photo by Jason McCarthy | courtesy of National Museum of Australia