Christopher Bensch, VP for Collections and Chief Curator The Strong National Museum of Play

RPS Zoom Presentation, May 12, 2021 –  Christopher Bensch, VP for Collections and Chief Curator The Strong National Museum of Play.  The Classic Toys in the National Toy Hall of Fame

Presentation with Objects

What does it take for a toy to earn its way into the National Toy Hall of Fame? Why do some toys start as fads and wind up being timeless? Learn the answers to these and other questions in this entertaining hands-on presentation, complete with examples of the 71 toys presently in the National Toy Hall of Fame. The lecture recounts the surprising histories of some of America’s best-loved toys—Barbie, GI Joe, the Slinky, the Hula Hoop—and offers a glimpse of their paths to hall of fame status. And, if your favorite toy hasn’t received the recognition it so richly deserves, you can nominate it!

In 1989, Christopher Bensch became one of the curators at The Strong in Rochester, New York, with responsibility for furniture and cookware, record albums and televisions, Big Mac boxes and Halloween costumes. Since 2004, Chris has served as Vice President for Collections with oversight of the museum’s curatorial, conservation, and library functions and the more than 510,000 objects that make it the largest, most comprehensive collection of toys, games, dolls, and video games in the world.

At The Strong, Chris has acted as curator for numerous exhibits including the Toy Halls 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 2023. Chris 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, Chris 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 live on MSNBC and on ABC’s Good Morning America Sunday.