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University of Connecticut University Libraries

The puppets displayed in this exhibit were created by world-renowned pupTpeteer Frank Ballard, emeritus professor of dramatic arts and founder of the Puppet Arts program in the School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut. The exhibit includes a sampling of one-of-a-kind puppets from productions such as Carnival, Babes in Toyland, and Petrouchka. These are just a few of the thousands of puppets that starred in performances at the University from 1969 to 1989 under Ballard’s visionary leadership.

In 2003, the Connecticut Legislature designated the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry as the state’s official puppetry museum. The museum preserves and exhibits puppetry traditions found at the University of Connecticut, and provides research and educational opportunities.

The dream of having a museum began in 1987 with the Puppet Preservation Committee, whose members recognized the unique puppetry treasures residing at UConn. Built by students under Frank Ballard’s direction, these puppets were designed for performance in main stage theatrical works at the University. The Puppet Preservation Trust ultimately became the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, and collections grew exponentially through donations by worldfamous puppeteers and friends of Frank Ballard.

The museum opened its doors to the public in April 1996 due to the work of dedicated volunteers. The collection of over 2,000 puppets now includes rare examples of all types—hand, rod, shadow, marionette, and mask—from over a hundred years past and from all corners of the world. Nearby, a new state-of-the-art puppetry facility supports the only university program in the United States to offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in puppetry.

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry is located on UConn’s Depot Campus. For information about its tenth anniversary programs and exhibits, and for hours and directions, go to or call 860-486-4605.

January 15 – May 19, 2006
Music & Dramatic Arts Library Lobby
• Curators: Tracey Rudnick and Cheryl Gardner