Puppetry Arts Institute

+1-816-833-9777 [email protected]

About Us

Puppetry Arts Institute is a 501(c)3 organization with a board of directors, who meet six times a year to oversee the Institute.  PAI is located in a 3,000 square foot handicapped –accessible building at 11025 E. Winner Road, in the Englewood Arts District of Independence, MO.  


Our Story

PAI is a 501(c)3 organization established in 2000 by local puppeteers led by Diane Houk, to share this art form with our community.


What We Do

The Puppetry Arts Institute is a magical place for children, families and even adults to enjoy puppet shows, puppet painting workshops and other special events.


Why We Do It

Our mission is to preserve and promote puppetry through education and entertainment for all ages.

Can you guess where we got the colorful background art for this website?

From the Kids at PAI!

Puppet Painting Workshop attendees have a great time painting and learning at PAI. The background image used for this website is one of the many pieces of tablecloth art that was created while the kids painted their puppets.

Our Story

Puppetry Arts Institute was established in May of 2000, as part of a dream of a group of local puppeteers led by Diane Houk.  The location on Winner Road in Englewood was opened in October of 2001 to share the art of puppetry with the community.

We are also the world producers of Nunsense Puppets used in the nine different Nunsense productions. We have shipped puppets all over the United States and to such foreign destinations as Germany, England, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Sweden, Lithuania and Nova Scotia. We were given production rights by Pady Blackwood, the original designer for the Broadway productions.  Nancy Clark learned the skills for producing these puppets from Pady, who was our artist in residence until his passing eight years ago.

The Puppet shows we schedule bring in local and out-of-state puppeteers using a variety of styles of puppetry.  One show a year we bring in a puppeteer of national reputation for older children and adults, to increase the understanding of the wide range of the art of puppetry.

Puppet making workshops are scheduled with at-risk youth, school children, daycare groups, homeschool groups, seniors, the mentally and physically challenged and family and youth groups.   Kindergarten classes from the Independence School District come to PAI to paint their own puppets, and see a puppet  show that teaches about kindness and respect in the classroom.

We have a room in our museum devoted to Hazelle Rollins and her puppet factory,  as well as a room devoted to international puppetry, with 20 countries represented.  During 2021-mid-2022 we feature a special Missouri Bicentennial Exhibit, created by Kraig Kensinger.

The main room has changing exhibits on various themes.  Past exhibits have featured the work of puppeteer Bill Sollner, and Independence puppeteers DoLores Hadley and Robert LeRoy Smith.   “Punch and Judy” was the theme of our 2015 exhibit.  Themes for other exhibits include “Amazing Women in Puppetry: 1920s to 1950s,” “Pinocchio Time,” “Howdy Doody,” “Nelson-Atkins Museum Depression Marionettes,” “Vent Figures,” and “Toy Theaters.”

We seek grants and contributions to sponsor our shows, workshops and museum and are grateful to our many sponsors, donors and volunteers for their generous support.



Randy Thatcher, President

Anitra Steele, Secretary

Kathy Rohr, Treasurer

Paul Bond

Teri Hare

Ann Ragan

Joyce Stone

Nancy Clark, Advisor

Kathleen Vest, Executive Director