Did you know Northern Kentucky is home to the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of ventriloquism? On a quiet street in Ft. Mitchell there is a home with a sign stating it is the Vent Haven Museum-a sanctuary for ventriloquists (vent for short). The home once belonged to William S. Berger who was an avid collector and built three buildings on his property to store his collection.
The home is now occupied by the museum curator, Jennifer, who has a massive amount of knowledge about the collection and took us on a tour allowing us to take photos. Here, she is demonstrating the various personality features of this dummy. They speak of having dummies that can do just about anything – walk, spit, wink, raise eyebrows, wiggling ears, nose turns red, smoke out the ears or mouth and more. By the way, did you know that the head and body of dummies are separate and then assembled for shows? It’s one of those things you don’t think about, but tuck it away for trivia night!
With no heirs to receive his collection, Berger established a charitable foundation which became a museum in 1973 a year after his death at age 94. I thought it was neat to hear that even up into his time as a nursing home resident, he entertained others with his talent.
An example of Jen’s on-the-spot knowledge was displayed when I asked about this pair dummies and she pointed to a photo above them speaking of the woman who used them and then at some point decided to paint the boy as a clown.
The one room, called the classroom, is set up with rows of dummies and there’s a gap in the back so visitors can join the dummies for a photo opportunity.
Each year, the museum hosts the Vent Haven Convention and it attracts all ages interested in the art. Jeff Dunham is probably the most well-known ventriloquist today and has been a long-time convention attendee. A corner of one room is dedicated to him and includes his first dummy, Monty Ballew.
For all the years I’ve lived in Cincinnati this was my first visit. My parents have mentioned reading articles about the museum, but never been. If you’re like them, plan a visit in 2013. Tours are by appointment May through September. In the meantime, check out the website for photos of featured figures or see photos and videos.
Please note: these photos are the property of Andi/udandi and not available for use on another site