Puppetry Arts Institute

+1-816-833-9777 pai@att.net

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Museum

We hope you can visit us and tour our museum.  Our main room features changing puppetry exhibits, and our special museum rooms are listed below.   Admission is free, and our exhibit rooms and displays are open during our regular business hours, Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a. m. – 4 p. m.    For group tours, contact us at 816-833-9777 or by email at pai@att.net.

The Hazelle Rollins Museum at Puppetry Arts Institute

Puppetry Arts Institute is the only museum dedicated to Hazelle Rollins and her puppets.   Hazelle was a Kansas City area businesswoman who created Hazelle, Inc., the internationally recognized puppet manufacturing company.  Her factory was located in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1934-1985.    Our Hazelle exhibit features examples of her marionettes, hand puppets, finger puppets, and parts used in the creation of her puppets.  This display shares Hazelle’s story, and showcases her signature marionette and hand puppet styles.

Click here for a biography and more information about Hazelle, and the story of how she created her puppets and marionettes:

https://puppetryartsinstitute.org/hazelle-rollins-history/

Missouri Bicentennial Exhibit

(open through August 31, 2022)

Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Missouri’s statehood.

PAI Artistic Director Kraig Kensinger has created a display of interesting Missouri facts and trivia, inter-mixed with puppets relating to the history of the state.

    

The Diane Houk International Room

(temporarily closed – will re-open September 1, 2022)

This room is dedicated to our late founder and Executive Director Diane Houk.    Examples of many types of puppetry, from all over the world, are exhibited here, and visitors can view their unique cultural craftsmanship and performance styles.

Museum History

The Puppetry Arts Institute was founded by Diane Houk, with the help of a steering committee, and opened in 2001. Diane’s husband Edward Thomas (E.T.) was a construction engineer and they worked and lived across the globe for many years. As an avid promoter of puppetry since a child, Diane collected diverse puppets from the many countries she lived in. After returning to Independence Missouri, Diane became an active member of The Puppetry Guild of Kansas City Diane was always a fan of business woman Hazelle Hedges Rollins who created the world’s largest toy puppet factory in Kansas City.

Hazelle Inc. was in production from 1934 to 1975. After the factory was sold by Hazelle, it was managed  by several business owners.  However, none could maintain the finely tuned company partnership developed over the decades by Hazelle and her staff. Unable to find a buyer for the business, the final owner donated all the physical assets to the Helping Hand of Goodwill Industries in Kansas City.

In 1991, Goodwill Industries offered the unused remaining inventory to the Puppetry Guild of Kansas City and the Hazelle Puppet Project was formed. The project was designed to stimulate local puppetry and exhibit the work of Hazelle.

This project developed into a vision by Diane to create a permanent site for the factory inventory as well as a museum and puppet-related venue. Through fundraising, community support, and volunteers, her dream came true.

Puppetry Arts Institute was created with the mission to: “preserve and promote puppetry through education and entertainment for all ages”. The mission continues on as PAI offers a museum room showcasing the Hazelle Inc. factory history, The Houk International Collection, rotating puppet exhibits, a multi- purpose workshop -performance space, a puppet research library, and a gift shop of unique puppet related items.