Approximately 28 years ago, a sister of Buddy Benz contacted the Benz School of Floral Design and mentioned that she had found some interesting shopping bags, some of which had belonged to Mr. Benz. Those bags became the first acquisitions of what would become the Benz Gallery of Floral Art Shopping Bag collection.
Over the years, Jim Johnson, who was serving as the Benz School director, kept his eyes open for unique and iconic styles of bags. He brought bags back to the collection from around the world. Word spread that a collection had started and soon students, faculty, visitors and even other museums were donating bags. In the summer of 2012, Johnson began to organize this collection with the help of an assistant. By the time the sorting and categorizing was completed, they had counted over 5000 shopping bags. Duplicates were pulled out, damaged bags were discarded, gift bags were removed from the collection and what remained were three separate collections for traveling exhibits and a permanent collection for the Benz Gallery.
The oldest bag in the collection dates to around the 1930’s: a crocheted Marshall Fields bag. A particularly special bag in the collection has the images of the World Trade Center Towers with the words: It’s a wonderful world across the top. The exhibit of over 125 bags is now on display at the Benz Gallery of Floral Art in the Horticulture/Forest Science Building on the Texas A&M University campus. The building is open from 8am-5pm, Monday –Friday. There is no admission charge. For more information, visit http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/benz-school/benz-gallery/