Vent Haven Museum located just 4 miles south of downtown Cincinnati is truly something to behold. Driving down the idyllic neighborhood street one would never know what lies inside the unassuming buildings. What’s inside? A mind- blowing, massive collection of ventriloquial figures and memorabilia!!! The world’s only ventriloquism figures museum, actually. The collection contains more than 900 figures from twenty countries dating back to the mid 1800’s as well as hundreds of photographs and other pieces of memorabilia related to ventriloquism. The collection contains everything from priceless pieces by Cincinnati’s own McElroy brothers to my childhood fave Madame, of Wayland Flowers fame. Howdy Doody, Lambchop, Charlie McCarthy…they’re all there. This amazing stockpile was the private collection of one William Shakespeare Berger, a Cincinnati businessman and amateur ventriloquist. Berger, who was born in 1878 was also the former president of The International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists. At the time of his passing in 1972, he had outlived all his heirs, leaving only his dummies to inherit his fortune. Every July, the museum hosts the world’s only ventriloquism “ConVENTion” attended by over 600 ventriloquists to hone their craft (“vent” is slang for the profession).
On my way out I picked up a signed copy of Celebrity photographer Matthew Rolston’s, recently published coffee table book titled “Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits.”
Apparently when Rolston saw the dummies, he said this was the best lineup of faces he’d ever seen, I couldn’t agree more.

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