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Located in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, Vent Haven is the world's only museum dedicated to ventriloquism. Vent Haven opened to the public in 1973, showing founder W.S. Berger's massive collection to the public. Housing more than 900 dummies used by ventriloquists from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, Vent Haven's uniqueness draws tourists from literally around the world.

  • W.S. Berger and his collection. Credit: Vent Haven Museum
  • Just a small portion of the dummies available for viewing. Credit: Flickr Poster 5chw4r7z
  • W.S. Berger outside of "Building Two." Credit: Vent Haven Museum
  • Credit: Vent Haven Museum
  • Comedian Jeff Dunham uses puppets and dummies for his shows. Credit: Rose Brewington, Cincinnati Refined
  • 33 West Maple (Vent Haven) as it looked at the time of the opening of the museum. Credit: Vent Haven Museum
  • Interior view of museum in process. Left: Ray, Richard Breitenstein, W.S. Berger, Cliff Breitenstein. The Breitenstein brothers constructed the museum building, Oct 1965. Credit: Vent Haven Museum
  • While Berger was always proud of his collection of ventriloquist figures, visitors say he was nearly as proud of the elaborate landscaping on the grounds of Vent Haven. Credit: Vent Haven Museum
  • After the dedication ceremony was over, visitors were allowed to tour the newly arranged Vent Haven Museum. Original museum curator Susan DeFalaise led visitors on a tour of the museum. Credit: Vent Haven Museum
  • This 1800s dummy was made with glass eyes, human hair, and real teeth. 
You could obtain such supplies from the local barber. Credit: Paige, Cincy Whimsy

Vent Haven Museum has not always been a museum open to the public. Vent Haven began as one man's private collection, and the story of how Vent Haven came to be what it is today is almost as fascinating as the museum itself.

Founder and Cincinnati native William Shakespeare Berger, W.S. Berger, spent more than 40 years amassing a personal collection of everything related to ventriloquism: dummies, puppets, photos, scripts, memorabilia, playbills, posters, recordings, and more. He was not a professional ventriloquist. In 1973, his massive collection was officially opened to the public and dedication of a third building was held. Edgar Bergen and Jimmy Nelson were among the performers. Since then it has nearly doubled in size as its name and reputation have spread worldwide.

Vent Haven Museum is a one of a kind museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to ventriloquism. Every year, hundreds of tourists visit the museum to see this amazing collection, to learn about ventriloquism and its history, and to see how dummies are made. Housing more than 900 dummies used by ventriloquists from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, Vent Haven's uniqueness draws tourists from literally around the world.

The collection began when W.S. purchased his first figure, Tommy Baloney, in 1910 while on a business trip to New York. At first, he kept the figures in his home in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, but the collection grew rapidly in the 1930’s and 1940’s. In 1947, he renovated his garage to house the dummies and in 1962, he built a second building. It houses over 700 figures, thousands of photographs and playbills, and a library of books, some of which date back to the 1700s. 

The most popular dummy at the museum is a replica of Charlie McCarthy, a figure in a top hat, tux, and monocle. Charlie and his human partner, ventriloquism pioneer Edgar Bergen, appeared on the Chase and Sanborn Hour radio show from 1937 to 1956

From the late 1940’s until 1960, W.S. was the president of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists. His leadership helped the organization grow from about 300 members to over 1000. He also published a monthly magazine called The Oracle, which kept ventriloquists abreast of current events in the vent community. Mr. Berger also maintained extensive correspondence with ventriloquists from around the world, often writing as many as 50 letters a week.

W.S. outlived his wife, son and grandson and had no other heirs. Fearing his collection would be divided and dispersed, he sought advice from his attorney, John R.S. Brooking, who helped him set up a charitable foundation for his assets, property, and collection. Today, thanks to the foresight of Berger and Brooking, Vent Haven Museum functions as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and Mr. Berger's fabulous collection is open to the public.

History of the Museum. Vent Haven Museum. Accessed February 22, 2018. 

Who We Are. Vent Haven Museum. Accessed March 01, 2018. 

Come Face-to-Face With Hundreds of Ventriloquist Dummies at Vent Haven. Slate. Accessed March 01, 2018.