If you're afraid of ventriloquist dummies -- and why wouldn't you be because that's a totally rational fear to have, right? RIGHT YOU GUYS? WHY ARE THEY STARING AT ME?! -- then you might want to stay away from Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. This small town is home to one of your worst nightmares -- the only ventriloquist museum in the world.
Imagine rows and rows of life-like, yet lifeless, eyes staring right through you as you walk the museum's silent halls. Creeped out yet?
A businessman named William Shakespeare Berger started his puppet collection while on a trip to New York in 1910, and it eventually grew into what is now called "Vent Haven." The museum houses more than 700 figures and thousands of photographs and playbills in its four small buildings.
Just a few of the celebrities you'll see: Comedian Jeff Dunham’s puppets, including Peanut (the purple-skinned “woozle”) and Walter (the grumpy retired man with a constant scowl on his face), a couple of the puppets Terry Fator used when he won “America’s Got Talent” in 2007, Jimmy Nelson’s Farfel and Shari Lewis’s Lamb Chop ("The Song That Never Ends" not included, thankfully).
You have to admit -- nightmares aside -- that's a pretty cool collection to have in one place.
“Many times, when they decide to retire a figure, this is where they decide to send it. This is their safe place, their haven. And so the dummies will arrive here often times from the performers themselves,” Jennifer Dawson, a museum curator, told HLN affiliate WGNO.
None of the puppets are ever sold once they're put in Vent Haven's care. And while all of those little doll faces might give us the willies, it feels like home to professional ventriloquists, like Jay Johnson.
“Every puppet here at one time was part of a show business act," Johnson told WGNO. "They had their own personality and people thought they were real and it just gives me a great sense of my history when I come here.”
The museum doesn't stay open on a regular schedule, so don't make plans to just stop on by. You'll have to schedule your personal tour up to three days in advance (larger groups need three weeks notice) by calling (859) 341-0461 and asking to speak with the curator, Lisa Sweasy.