The world's only ventriloquism museum

by Terri Weeks / Jun 28, 2012 /
Terri Weeks's picture

If you want to visit a ventriloquism museum, there's only one to choose from and it's in Greater Cincinnati.  Located just five miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, Vent Haven Museum is a hidden gem that even most Cincinnatians don't know about.  Why Cincinnati?  Amateur ventriloquist and Cincinnati native, William Shakespeare Berger, known as W.S., began his collection in 1910 with the purchase of his first dummy, Tommy Baloney.  Over the years his collection grew and prior to his death, he set up a charitable foundation that would ensure his collection remained intact.

Vent Haven Dummies and Memorabilia

Today the Vent Haven collection is comprised of over 800 dummies and puppets and fills three buildings.  The museum is open May through September by appointment only.  Visitors should not let the "appointment only" stipulation prevent them from visiting.  The museum's curator is very flexible with appointment times.  She is able to schedule daytime or evening, weekend or weekday appointments and no minimum number of people is required.


During a tour of the museum, which lasts approximately an hour and 15 minutes, you will learn about the history of ventriloquism.  Admit it. You've tried talking without moving your lips.  It's hard, isn't it?  It's definitely an impressive skill.  

Vent Haven Ventriloquist Museum

Visitors also learn about the most well-known ventriloquists and their figures.  The collection appeals to fans of all ages.  The older generation will appreciate a replica of Edgar Bergen's Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd.  People who grew up in the 50's will remember Jimmy Nelson's Farfel the dog and Danny O'Day from Nestle Quik commercials.  Comedy fans will recognize Jeff Dunham's Walter, Jose Jalapeno, and Peanut.  Perhaps more well-known to the youngest generation are puppets that Terry Fator brought to life as singing impersonators on the reality television show, America's Got Talent:  Emma Taylor and the adorable turtle, Winston.  Other recognizable dummies include Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.  Perhaps it would be more patriotic of me to refer to our esteemed former presidents as "figures", not "dummies". In addition to dummies and puppets, Vent Haven has plenty of memorabilia and photographs of ventriloquists.

Dummy collection Vent Haven Ventriloquism Museum

This is a fascinating and memorable museum whether you are already a fan of ventriloquism or not.  While it's not a hands-on museum, it is nevertheless appealing to kids and the curator has even been known to make sock puppets with some of the younger visitors.  It is a wonderful museum for multiple generations of families to visit together.    

 

Vent Haven Museum
venthavenmuseum.com
33 West Maple Avenue, Fort Mitchell, KY 41011
(859) 341-0461    
May – September, by appointment   
Admission:  $5 per person    

 

Terri Weeks is a family travel writer in the Cincinnati area, a mom to three terrific kids, and the Cincinnati Editor for Wandering Educators.  Terri is a local travel guru in Cincinnati.  She and co-author Laura Hoevener have been exploring locations in and around Cincinnati for the last ten years. Together, they compiled all of their favorite adventures into their book, Adventures Around Cincinnati: A Parent's Guide to Unique and Memorable Places to Explore with your Kids.  Additionally, her family is on a mission to visit all 50 states by the time her kids graduate from high school.   She blogs about family travel in the US at www.travel50stateswithkids.com.  

Photos courtesy of and copyright Vent Haven Museum and Terri Weeks.