Month: January 2024

The Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo (1884-1947) Puppet Forum on 2/22

As part of its 2024 Spring Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry is pleased to host The Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo (1884-1947): The Paladins of France in America, a discussion with Dr. Jo Ann Cavallo of Columbia University, on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 at 7 p.m. at the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. This forum will also be broadcast via Ballard Institute Facebook Live ( 

In the forum, Dr. Cavallo will discuss her recently published book The Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo, the first-ever study of the vibrant popular spectacle of the Manteo family’s puppet theater in New York City in the 1920s and 30s, including founder Agrippino Manteo’s new-world presentation of original Paladini di Francia scripts from his mentors in Sicily.

Jo Ann Cavallo is Professor of Italian and Chair of the Italian Department, Columbia University. She has published widely on Italian literature and culture, especially chivalric epic in popular traditions. Her latest book, The Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo, was recently awarded a UNIMA-USA Nancy Staub Award and is forthcoming in Italian. Her previous book, The World beyond Europe in the Romance Epics of Boiardo and Ariosto, received a Modern Language Association Publication Award and was also translated into Italian. She has edited several volumes, most recently World Epics and Puppet Theater and Teaching World Epics, and is series editor of the Anthem World Epic and Romance book series.

Admission to this event is free (donations greatly appreciated!), and refreshments will be served. For more information or if you require accommodation to attend a forum, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860.486.8580 or

Opening of “Taking Care: Puppets and Their Collectors” on 2/15

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present the grand opening of its new exhibition Taking Care: Puppets and Their Collectors on Thursday, February 15, with refreshments served at 4:30 p.m. and an in-person exhibition tour at 5 p.m. by curator Dr. Jungmin Song and Ballard Institute director Dr. John Bell, which will also be streamed on Ballard Institute’s Facebook Live ( This exhibition opening also kicks off celebrations for the tenth anniversary of the Ballard Institute’s Downtown Storrs location.  All events will take place at the Ballard Institute, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs.

Since its founding in 1989, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry’s collections have grown thanks to the generous contributions from many puppet collectors. Taking Care: Puppets and Their Collectors, curated by Dr. Jungmin Song, will showcase some of the highlights of the collections including 1930s marionettes, Sicilian pupi, Chinese shadow figures, African rod puppets, overhead projector innovations, and Frank Ballard musicals, along with backstories explaining how this global array of puppets came to the Ballard Institute. Taking Care will explore puppet collecting as a vital cultural activity, delving into the various reasons donors dedicate themselves to the preservation of puppetry’s heritage. The exhibition will be on display through June 16, 2024. 

The museum will be closed through February 15 while the new exhibition is installed. The Ballard Institute will be open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is no set admission, but visitors are encouraged to pay as they wish.