The March meeting of the Honeoye Falls/Mendon Historical Society will feature Christopher (Chris) Bensch.
In 1989, Bensch became one of the curators at The Strong Museum in Rochester with responsibility for a wide array of items: furniture, and cookware, record albums and televisions, Big Mac boxes and Halloween costumes. Since 2004, Bensch has served as Vice President for Collections with oversight of the museum’s curatorial, conservation and library functions. The museum’s more than 500,000 objects make it the largest and most comprehensive collection of toys, games, dolls and video games in the world.
At The Strong, Bensch has acted as curator for numerous exhibits including Adventureland and Field of Play, the major exhibits that opened in 2006 as part of The Strong’s $3.7-million expansion that almost doubled the size of the museum. Most recently, he has overseen production of the museum’s two second floor exhibits: the Toy Hall of Fame that opened in September 2015 and America at Play that opened in December 2016. He is currently deeply involved in The Strong’s upcoming 90,000 SF expansion project scheduled to open in 2022.
Bensch also serves as the primary spokesperson for the National Toy Hall of Fame which, every November selects two or three classic toys deserving that special honor. Representing the Hall of Fame, Bensch has hula-hooped on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, recounted the history of Slinky and Silly Putty on the Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum series and appeared on MSNBC and ABC’s Good Morning America Sunday. He also takes part in numerous radio shows including NPR’s Weekend Edition and All Things Considered.
What will Bensch’s program cover? Mickey Mouse watches, Batman pajamas, Little Mermaid lunch boxes and Sesame Street toys fill children’s bedrooms. Adults proudly wear Looney Tunes t-shirts eat Cocoa Pebbles cereal, furnish bathrooms with Snoopy shower curtains and answer calls on Garfield telephones. As this lecture demonstrates, the pattern of using make-believe characters to sell products and services is not new. It’s been part of American commerce for more than a hundred years. Discover some surprising ways that character products have invaded our homes, infiltrated our lives and become one of the dominate forms of merchandise.
The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on March 5th at the Mendon Community Center, 167 North Main Street in Honeoye Falls. This facility is handicapped accessible. The meeting is open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For information, call 624-5655.