School of Fine ArtsBallard Institute and Museum of Puppetry
About Us

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The University of Connecticut (UConn) is a public research university in the U.S. state of Connecticut. UConn was founded in 1881 and is a Land Grant and Sea Grant college & member of the Space Grant Consortium. The university serves more than 30,000 students on its six campuses, including more than 8,000 graduate students in multiple programs.

Faculty & Staff


John Bell

Museum Director
Dr. John Bell is a puppeteer and theater historian who began working in puppetry with Bread and Puppet Theater in the 1970s, and continued as a company member for over a decade. He studied theater history at Columbia University, and has since taught at New York University, Rhode Island School of Design, Emerson College and other institutions. He is a founding member of the Brooklyn-based theater company Great Small Works, and the author of many books and articles about puppetry, including Puppets, Masks, and Performing Objects, Strings, Hands, Shadows: A Modern Puppet History, and American Puppet Modernism. His wife Trudi Cohen is also a puppeteer and member of Great Small Works. Their son Isaac is studying at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Felicia Cooper

Graduate Assistant

Felicia Cooper is a second-year MFA candidate studying Puppet Arts at the University of Connecticut, with a BA in Theater from Point Park University. At UConn she moderated the Ballard Institute’s forum on Women in Puppetry, organized the inaugural Women in Making Forum with the Learning Community Innovation Zone, and presented research at the 2019 National Puppetry Festival. She has performed with Bread and Puppet Theater, Puppet Bucket Productions, and at the National Eugene O’Neill Puppet Conference. She has held artistic residencies with the New Hazlett Theater, PearlArts, folkLAB, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Creative ReUse, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Propel Schools,and others. She loves giving tours and workshops and sharing her exuberance for puppetry in all its forms.

EW PhotoEmily Wicks

Manager of Operations and Collections
Emily Wicks received her MA in History and MLIS degree, with a specialization in Museum Studies and Archival Management, from Kent State University in Ohio. She has experience in cultural resource management, historical research, and museums. Before joining the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, Emily worked for the Shaker Historical Society in Shaker Heights, Ohio and the ACLU of Ohio.