Typically, when I think of the word “museum”, I usually imagine a large building filled with artwork and artifacts from years past. Granted, that’s a pretty narrow view of the word because there are all types of museums in all shapes and sizes. By definition, the word “museum” means “an institution devoted to the purchase, care, study and display of objects of enduring interest or value”. The last three words of this definition open it up to just about anything. In Indiana, there are museums dedicated to superheroes, quilting, and even windmills. However, our southern neighbors in Kentucky have a museum you won’t find anywhere else on planet Earth, one dedicated to the art of ventriloquism.
Enter the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky
Opened in 1973 in the town of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, a few miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Vent Haven Museum features the personal collection of its founder, William Shakespear (WS) Berger, who spent more than 40 years collecting everything and anything. it could be related to ventriloquism. In addition to “more than a thousand models”, the museum also displays photos, scripts, memorabilia, posters, posters, recordings, etc.
According to the museum’s website, Berger was not a professional ventriloquist himself, but he was obviously fascinated by the art form of entertainment. He bought his first mannequin in his early thirties and continued to add to his collection throughout his life. He kept his collection in his house and once it outgrew the space, he moved it to a small detached garage on his property. Eventually the collection outgrew that space, so he built another small building next to it and filled it in as well. The house and two buildings house the museum to this day and are in a neighborhood that resembles any standard neighborhood in America.
The museum’s website doesn’t explain where the name “Vent Haven” comes from, although I have my own theory. I guess “Vent” is short for ventriloquism and the museum is a “haven” for performance art. Again, this is a complete and totally uneducated guess on my part. A theory, if you will.
I would say next time you are in the Cincinnati area it might be worth making room in your travel itinerary for a stop at the Vent Haven Museum, but I won’t. Not now anyway. The reason is that the museum is temporarily closed. But, it’s for a very good reason. They are currently in the process of constructing a brand new facility on the same land where the original house and building are located. Construction is expected to be complete and the museum to reopen to the public in spring 2023.
In the meantime, you can take a virtual tour thanks to the report produced by Kentucky Educational Television (KET).
[Source: FactRetriever.com / Vent Haven Museum]
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