Friday, June 24, 2016

The eyes have it in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

            Ventriloquist dummies are like those paintings where the eyes follow you around the room. You’ll feel like someone's watching you at the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.
            The Vent Haven Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world — dedicated to the art and history of ventriloquism and offering 800-plus ventriloquists’ dummies on display, from Edgar Bergen’s Charlie McCarthy to Shari Lewis’ Lamb Chop. There’s even Miss Piggy!
The museum started as a private collection by William Shakespeare “W.S.” Berger who served as president of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists for about 20 years. Berger donated his extensive collection, including Tommy Baloney dating back to 1910,  to create the museum.
Tommy Baloney
Opened on June 30, 1973, the non-profit museum now showcases dummies and thousands of video clips and photos of ventriloquists and their creations, some of which date back centuries. The museum also hosts an annual international ConVENTion where hundreds of ventriloquists attend each year. In 2014 Bill Geist spotlighted the ConVENTion in an episode of CBS’ Sunday Morning. This year’s event will be July 13-16, 2016, at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott Hotel in Hebron, Kentucky.
The museum is only open May through September and all tours are guided and by appointment; contact them for more information or to schedule a time. Admission is $10 per person, $5 for seniors, children 12 and under and groups of 10 or more.

Photos courtesy of Vent Haven Museum

Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in Lafayette, Louisiana. She is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire and “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at

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