As the purveyors of the world’s only Button Museum, we’re always on the lookout for kindred spirits running similarly quirky, little museums, and we found that in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky’s Vent Haven Museum. Founded in 1975, Vent Haven is the world’s only museum dedicated to the art of ventriloquism and boasts an impressive collection of ventriloquial figures and memorabilia.
Tom Ladshaw, Vent Haven Board of Advisors member, said that they originally ordered buttons for the Vent Haven ConVENTion, which attracts ventriloquists from all over the world. That first batch of buttons featured “The Dean of American Ventrioloquism,” Jimmy Nelson and his famous puppets, including Danny O’Day and Farfel (best known from Nestle Quik commercials).
While four different character buttons were made, each registrant’s packet included four identical designs. “Getting just one design encouraged mixing and mingling with other convention registrants so [they] could trade with other attendees,” Tom said. The ‘button mixer’ “proved to be highly successful, with lots of ‘pin swapping’ taking place over the four day convention.”
No museum is complete without a gift shop souvenirs to help visitors remember their visit, and after the success of the convention buttons, Vent Haven staff decided to offer buttons and magnets in their small gift shop as well.
The now offer several buttons featuring famous ventriloquists and characters, as well as a slightly more expensive museum ‘donor’ pin that changes yearly. For museum superfans, there’s also a 24k gold ‘sponsor’ button available for purchase featuring the Vent Haven logo. Tom reported that the sponsor buttons “sold out immediately at our convention last year and made for a great fund raiser.”
Vent Have also expanded their line to include two magnet designs, in addition to the buttons. “Magnets seem to be popular all over,” Tom said, so they created a logo magnet as well as one featuring the museum’s unofficial mascot, “Jacko the Monkey.”
Tom said that the buttons and magnets have been been “steady income generators,” something that’s indispensable for a small museum. We’ve certainly been impressed with the creative ideas the Vent Haven team has developed to use buttons and magnets in their marketing and fundraising efforts. You can get one for yourself by visiting museum next time you’re in the Cincinnati area.
Interested in more creative ideas for raising money with buttons? Check out our guide to Grassroots Fundraising with Buttons.