Annual Exhibit

Annual Exhibit “Selling Ben-Hur” opens in March 2023

Our 2023 annual exhibit explores the marketing powerhouse behind Lew Wallace’s best-selling novel, public performances of the novel, film versions, and product naming. It’s hard to conceive of our branding film world, dominated by Disney and super-hero action figures, without the Ben-Hur tradition of using material culture to promote an artistic product that then became important in popular culture. Modern blockbusters do not stand on their own. They are marketed by the use of products bearing the name of the artistic creation. General Lew Wallace and his Tale of the Christ “set all of this in motion.”

What is Material Culture?

Material culture is grounded in the objects and architecture that surround people. Material culture encompasses a wide array of items, from t-shirts featuring comic book superheroes to the four presidential heads carved into Mount Rushmore. Perhaps the most obvious example of the material culture particular to Ben-Hur is the private study Lew Wallace built using the proceeds
of the novel.