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The Vent Haven Museum

Listed under Museums in Cincinnati, United States.

  • Photo of The Vent Haven Museum
  • Photo of The Vent Haven Museum
Photo of The Vent Haven Museum
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Dummy phobia has infiltrated the calmest of dispositions over the years. You’re lying awake at night and all of a sudden the weathered eyes of a childhood toy begin to move. They blink, you’re sure of it; a glazed stare twitches… Frankenstein is waking up. You switch the light on and turn your feared companion to face the wall.

This is not the best introduction to the world’s only museum dedicated to art of Ventriloquism. Post Chucky, who admittedly had his beginnings in doll town and not dummy, it is not easy to reacquaint oneself with several hundred alarmingly jawed, bug-eyed, syrup faced, terrifying dummies who are destined never to perform again. It’s quite sad when you think about. However, the curator of the Ohio museum, Lisa Sweasy, admirably fights their corner. By appointment only, you will be introduced to the Vent legacy left behind by William Shakespeare Berger. It is said that the bond between a ‘vent’ and his trusted dummy is so strong, that living vents never donate their dummies. So you see, they’re practically orphans; they’d appreciate a visit from time to time. Annie would never have had this problem.

Since 1973, famous ventriloquists such as Edgar Bergen helped open the doors to this astonishing collection of figures, each with their own story to tell. As you walk through room after room notice Jimmy Carter and Ronald Regan on the same shelf and gaze up into the rafters at the bizarre figure of Maisie, a freckled child who blows bubblegum when squeezed; maybe don’t look her in the eye. Jacko, the dyed rabbit fur monkey, may have mixed antecedents, but he is one of the museum’s famed inhabitants. Visit the museum’s annual conVENTion and learn how to throw your voice and make your dummy walk, just make sure no one is following you on your return home…

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Written by  Sybilla Harvey.

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