Kentucky Is Home to the World's Only Ventriloquism Museum

5chw4r7z, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0 (cropped)
5chw4r7z, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0 (cropped)

If you suffer from pediophobia (a fear of dolls), you'll probably want to avoid a visit to the Vent Haven Museum on your next trip to northern Kentucky. According to Smithsonian, this oddball offering in Fort Mitchell—located less than 10 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio—is the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of ventriloquism.

Roughly 1000 dummies and puppets live inside the museum's four buildings, including Lamb Chop, the sock puppet made famous by ventriloquist and television host Shari Lewis. Renowned ventriloquists like Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator have also donated some of their figures to Vent Haven. There are historic pieces, as well; one of the oldest is a realistic-looking papier-mâché head with glass eyes that was made in the 1820s.

This puppet paradise originally started out as the private collection of a local man named William Shakespeare "W.S." Berger, who was actually not a professional ventriloquist. Rather, he was the president of a tile company (though he was also the president of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists). Because Berger outlived his son and grandson and had no other heirs, he set up a charitable foundation to ensure that his collection of ventriloquism ephemera lived on. And thus, Vent Haven Museum was born in 1973.

A creepy doll
5chw4r7z, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A ventriloquist dummy
5chw4r7z, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0 

The museum has long fascinated visitors and has even been the subject of a photography book by Matthew Rolston, titled Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits. One reviewer called the photos "eerily compelling," and another said it appeared as if the "dummies have souls."

Vent Haven also lends its name to an annual international ConVENTion (get it?), which sees more than 400 ventriloquists gather for workshops, roundtable discussions, and celebrity lectures. The 2019 event will take place July 17-20 at the Holiday Inn in nearby Erlanger, Kentucky.

As for the museum, visits are arranged by appointment only from May 1 to September 30. To schedule a tour, check out the museum's website.

[h/t Smithsonian]

Harry Potter Fans Are Waiting 10 Hours or More to Ride Hagrid’s Roller Coaster

Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando

Muggles will do anything to be a part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Universal Orlando opened up its newest ride this week at its version of Hogsmeade, the village that surrounds Hogwarts castle. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure takes wannabe wizards and witches on a twisting, high-speed flight through the mystical Forbidden Forest.

Diehard fans began waiting overnight outside the park in anticipation of the ride, and it looks like just about everyone had the same idea. At 8:30 a.m. on opening day, the line was already eight hours long, and quickly stretched to 10 hours long by 10:30 a.m., CNN reports.

The line is worth the wait for many fans of the franchise. As Potterheads already know, Rubeus Hagrid, beloved friend of Harry Potter and the gang, has a special affinity for mysterious creatures. So who better to see the beasts of the forest with than the half-giant?

Participants on the ride can choose to sit in Hagrid’s sidecar or in the driver’s seat. The winding track includes appearances by some of our favorite wizards, like Arthur Weasley, and creatures benevolent and otherwise, such as Cornish pixies, massive spiders, and the three-headed dog, Fluffy.

Fans aren’t the only ones wanting to experience the ride. Some of the stars of the film series had a little reunion in Orlando this week to celebrate the opening, including Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood).

Unlike the fans, however, they have magic (fame) to keep them from having to wait in 10-hour lines.

Happy riding, Potterheads!

[h/t CNN]

Show Off Your Love of Art With a Frida Kahlo Action Figure

Frida Kahlo Action Figure
Frida Kahlo Action Figure
Today is Art Day

If you're in the market for an action figure based on a real person, you've got plenty to choose from: Everyone from Snoop Dogg to the Pope is getting their own figurine these days. Now, Frida Kahlo has joined the ranks of icons who have become immortalized in plastic.

In 2017, Canadian art website Today Is Art Day (known for its Vincent van Gogh action figure) started a Kickstarter to give Kahlo the action figure treatment. The toy features the artist with a monkey pal on her shoulder, as well as a detachable heart and the faint smell of roses. The packaging has fun facts about the artist, along with some miniature artwork that can be cut out and affixed to a miniature easel.

“Not that I don’t like the great books and reproductions of artworks but, I think it’s more engaging to have a Frida Kahlo action figure on your desk rather than an art history book on your shelf," ‘Today Is Art Day’ founder David Beaulieu told Lost at E Minor during the Kickstarter campaign.

The Frida action figure is available on Amazon for $30.

Frida Kahlo Action Figure

Frida Kahlo Action Figure

[h/t Lost at E Minor]

A version of this article first ran in 2017. It has been updated to reflect current availability.

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