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Visit Vent Haven, the World's Only Ventriloquist Museum

Just south of Cincinnati in the town of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky you'll find Vent Haven, a small museum with an impressive claim to fame. Vent Haven is the world's only Ventriloquist Museum. Every year, thousands of visitors and their families tour the impressive collection of nearly 1000 ventriloquial figures or "dummies," as they're most commonly known.

Vent Haven curators say that nearly every guest they welcome into the museum enjoys themselves and finds a way to connect with the unique culture and history surrounding ventriloquism. If you're interested in ventriloquism, and even if you aren't, you'll love visiting the world's only ventriloquism museum in northern Kentucky.  (Credit for all images on page: Vent Haven Museum by 5chw4r7z CC BY-SA 2.0)

This massive collection of ventriloquist dummies and ventriloquism memorabilia started as the private collection of one man, William Shakespeare Berger. Oddly enough, Berger wasn't a professional ventriloquist; he was a hobbyist without particular skill. He didn't even own a dummy until he was 32 years old. However, by the 1930s, his collection started growing dramatically. Over the next several decades, his collection grew to over 500 dummies.

Berger served as president of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists for nearly 15 years and worked to grow its membership from 300 to over 1000 members. He was truly passionate about the craft of ventriloquism and maintained correspondence with dozens of ventriloquists around the world, writing as many as 50 letters each week.

Tragically, Berger outlived his wife, son, and grandson, leaving him heirless. Fearing his collection would be dispersed at his death, he worked with his attorney to set up a foundation for his assets, property and collection. The Vent Haven now operates as a non-profit organization and this impressive museum is open to the public.

One of the most impressive pieces in the Vent Haven collection is a ventriloquial head carved by a German prisoner of war in a Russian prison camp in 1942. He'd been a variety performer before he was captured by the Russian army and passed the time as a prisoner by whittling a dummy he would use to entertain his fellow prisoners. He soon realized that the Russians also enjoyed his performances, so he used his puppet to get additional food rations for his fellow prisoners.

It's not all history at this museum. Ventriloquism has undergone a sort of renaissance in the last 10 years. Amazingly popular acts on America's Got Talent and other talent shows have included skilled ventriloquists such as Terry Fator and Darci Lynne. Both of these performers have been wildly successful.

Others like Jeff Dunham use ventriloquism in their comedy acts, which are also popular. Both Jeff Dunham and Darci Lynne have some of their famous puppets in this museum for visitors to see.

If you'd like to visit the Vent Haven Museum, make sure to plan in advance. The museum offers tours by appointment and only in the summer months of May through September. The curators ask that you schedule a tour at least 48 hours in advance and they will do their best to accommodate. Don't miss out on the unique opportunity to visit the world's first and only museum dedicated to ventriloquism.

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