This museum is a unique tourist destination. It was formed out of a passion to preserve the love of ventriloquism for generations to come. What started out as a collection grew into a full blown collection that spans centuries.
I grew up less than 10 minutes from this museum and never knew it existed until my friend Jennifer became the curator.
Vent Haven is the only museum dedicated to the art of ventriloquism in the world. The museum has a collection of over 700 figures!
The museum resides tucked away on a residential street. You would never know it was there.
Jen started our tour by giving us an overview of what we would be seeing and the history behind the museum.
This collection is from William Shakespeare Berger, who lived here, he was not a professional but was interested in the art of ventriloquism. The “vent” is for ventriloquism and the “haven” is for being a safe place for retired dolls.
At first it can be a bit intimidating to walk into a room with so many faces.
As Jennifer shared the stories behind each figure, we began to understand and have more of an appreciation for why it was so important to preserve these retired characters that brought joy to so many people.
The rule for the museum was that the curator could not be a ventriloquist. That was because he found that the pros tended to want to add voices and touch all of the ventriloquial figures and the purpose was to retire them.
There is only one puppet (soft figure) that visitors can test their skills on. It may be tempting but you are not supposed to touch the figures because many of them are very fragile.
We learned that some of the figures can cry and even smoke. There are different levers used for each function.
There are even figures that have glass eyes and real human hair. The term puppet refers to soft figures and the hard figures are dummies that a lot of people call figures or vent/ventriloquial figures.
The walls are filled with ventriloquist with their puppets. There are several comedians who started as ventriloquist.
Below is Johnny Carson, who was a ventriloquist and he did such a great job that his kids believed that the dummy was their brother when they were younger.
The tour takes you into three buildings and is an interesting way to learn about a subculture of entertainers and their prized companions.
Can you find all three of us?
Vent Haven Museum tours are by appointment only from May through September.
Admission Donation $5 per person
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary tour for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
Vent Haven is located at 33 W Maple Ave Fort Mitchell, KY 41011.