Protecting the Puppets
Atlanta’s beloved center for puppetry arts undergoes upgrade to electronic locks
Located in Midtown Atlanta, the Center for Puppetry
Arts is the United States’ largest non-profit organization
dedicated to the art form of puppetry. This popular
destination—which welcomes more than 150,000
visitors from all over the world each year—is home to
some of puppetry’s most recognizable figures including Kermit the
Frog, Miss Piggy, and many more. In fact, beloved puppeteer Jim
Henson, accompanied by Kermit, cut the ceremonial ribbon when
the Center opened to the public in 1978. The award-winning center,
which focuses on performance, education, and the Worlds of Puppetry
Museum, has become a leading voice in the field of puppetry
and serves as host for numerous conferences and festivals.
Center for Education
The Center for Puppetry Arts is housed in the former Spring Street
Elementary School, part of which was built in 1918. A capital campaign
has provided for a multi-phase improvement plan that included
the construction of two new galleries (Phase I) and renovations of the
existing building (Phase II).
The newly constructed galleries include the Jim Henson Gallery
and the Global Gallery. The Jim Henson Gallery features approximately
75 artifacts highlighting Henson’s career including puppets
from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and Labyrinth
among others. The 75 items on display are rotated from more than
500 puppets and objects donated by the Henson family. The Global
Gallery is a visual representation of how puppetry has crossed cultural
lines and includes more than 175 puppets and artifacts from the
3,000-piece Global Collection representing five continents.
The center commissioned Atlanta’s Operational Security Systems
(OSS) to provide security including access control for both phases of
the construction project. The challenge, said OSS president Jim Coleman,
included many key components:
- Provide an access control solution that would be affordable for the
- Replace the use of the standard keys.
- Be technologically advanced and future-proof.
- Work seamlessly between the new construction and the existing,
All about Access
Liz Lees, arts producer at the Center for Puppetry said that the access
control system would have to accommodate the Center’s 50-plus doors and 75 full- and part-time employees
who are on different schedules and require
varying levels of access. As a museum and a
tourist attraction, the Center has public areas
where visitors are free to roam, but also
has more sensitive areas like archive storage
and offices that require extra security.
Coleman recommended SALTO Systems
electronic lock products and supporting Pro-
Access SPACE software to provide access
control for the Center for Puppetry Arts because
it met all challenges including affordability,
innovation and ease of use.
Coleman described the revolutionary
virtual network data-on-card technology as
an innovative and affordable way to achieve
the latest in access control. SVN provides
the flexibility for an access control system
to grow, as needed, from a small number of
doors and users to numerous doors and users.
It allows stand-alone locks to read, receive,
and write information via an encrypted
and secure data-on-card system that utilizes
the capabilities of RFID read/write technology.
In SVN, all access data is stored on and
distributed by its operating credential. When
presenting a credential to an offline standalone
door not only does this control access
rights to that door but, thanks to two-way
communication, the door also writes data—
like blacklist information or battery status—
back to the smartcard. The smartcard then
transmits this information back to the server
via online wall readers that update and receive
information from the cards anytime
and anywhere in the facility.
“Because the Center for Puppetry Arts had
such a variety of needs, we used a little bit of
everything from SALTO’s vast electronic lock
product line to work in concert with the SVN
technology,” Coleman said.
Among the products installed at the
center are the XS4 Locker and XS4 GEO
Electronic Padlock. The XS4 escutcheon’s
easy-to-install design makes it simple for security
professionals to upgrade and replace
mechanical-key-operated door locks with
the latest electronic access control solution.
The XS4 GEO electronic padlock is a versatile
locking solution that enables users to
benefit from the advantages of electronic
access control where previously it was only
possible to use a mechanical locking solution.
The XS4 Locker brings all the advantages
of an electronic access control solution
for lockers and cabinets such as those used
in the offices and administrative areas. The
electronic and mechanical components are
located on the inside to enhance the security
against vandalism or manipulation.
Lee said employees mainly use key fobs to
gain entry into secured areas; however, some
have also chosen to use an RFID wristband
for access since it allows them more freedom
to use their hands when carrying items.
To manage the system, Lee and the center’s
facilities director use ProAccess SPACE,
a web-based access control software that offers
a modern, user-centered interface for
varying skills, capabilities and security levels.
“ProAccess SPACE is user friendly and
it’s great to be able to access the program easily
from different computers,” Lee said.
Phase I of the project, which includes
both new galleries, is complete and Coleman
said he looks forward to expanding the solution
for Phase II, the upgrade of the existing
“SALTO Systems originated in Europe,
which gave them a great deal of experience
in working with older and historic buildings,”
Coleman said. “That is one of the reasons
why they are an excellent resource for projects
that involve upgrading facilities to the latest in
electronic locks and access control. We look
forward to completing Phase II and enhancing
the original facility with technologicallyadvanced
electronic access control.”
Lee said she looks forward to expanding
access control to Phase II. “Our experience
so far with the installation
has been great. We
can’t wait for the rest
of the project to be finished.”
This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Security Today.