'Selling Ben-Hur' exhibit to open

Museum shows how book was marketed worldwide


The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum is pleased to announce the opening of our 2023 exhibit “Selling Ben-Hur: The Novel, Marketing, and Material Culture”

The exhibit will open at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Carriage House Interpretive Center at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum.

“My God, did I set all of this in motion?” When Lew Wallace spoke these words in 1899 after seeing the staged production of Ben-Hur on Broadway, he could not have imagined all that he had actually set in motion.

Ben-Hur has commanded the nation’s attention for over 140 years. The book is a presence in both popular and material cultural unlike any other work of fiction before it. Scholars continue to study Lew Wallace and Ben-Hur for the impact the book and its many iterations have had on Christianity and world religion.

Beyond scholarly interest, this work of fiction has changed the course of modern material culture, becoming a commercial brand unto itself presented on thousands of products.

The 2023 exhibit examines the many ways Ben-Hur impacted modern marketing, material culture, Hollywood, and more. Examples of how Ben-Hur was used locally, nationally, and world-wide are on display. There are QR codes to hear two of the dozens of Ben-Hur songs that have been composed since the 1880s and a reproduction of the 1950 Ben-Hur Burma Shave signs line the walkway to the Study.

The exhibit may be viewed free of charge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. “Selling Ben-Hur” will run through early December. The Study is also open for guided tours. The Museum requests visitors seeking a guided tour of the Study book their appointment ahead of time, but walk-ins will be accommodated as much as possible. Tours last approximately one hour and are $7 for adults and $3 or $1 for students.

Other upcoming events at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum include American Battlefield Trust’s Park Day on April 15 and Hoosier Authors Book Club on April 20.

For more information about the exhibit, visit https://www.ben-hur.com/programs/annual-exhibit/ or contact Larry Paarlberg at 765-362-5769 or lpaarlberg@ben-hur.com.