Holyoke Children’s Museum adds 2,000-piece Pez display to collection

Over 15 boxes of Pez candy and accessories were shipped to the Children’s Museum at Holyoke just weeks ago. Susan Kelley, executive director of the museum, mounted a third of them onto the wall in the middle of the bustling chaos.

She said she is glad the museum can display the Pez collection.

“Just the whole concept that adults and kids would like it equally for different reasons, I thought it was the perfect fit,” Kelley said.

The Pez items began their journey a long way from Holyoke.

After years of collecting Pez dispensers and accessories, Marilyn Elise Hilyard Nichols of California, who passed away in 2014, made sure her collection would end up in a special place. It took her daughter, Kristen Nichols, many tries to finally find a museum that would see the value in her mother’s collection as much as she did.

“I have no idea what got her started on them, but she was obsessed, she had them all over the place. It just became her interest. It was her thing,” said Nichols.

Although Nichols lives in northern California, her daughter is currently attending Smith College which is how she found the children’s museum in Holyoke.   

“My mom gave us very specific instructions when she passed and told us the collection had to remain intact and had to go to a children’s museum. So that’s what we made happen for her,” Nichols said.

Kelley chose to accept the offer because she felt the Children’s Museum would be a perfect place for something like a Pez collection to be displayed.

After receiving almost 2,000 Pez dispensers and accessories, Kelley’s graphic designer, Tara Vermette from Tru-Blu Graphics of Southampton, helped design a case to mount on the wall and show off over 400 of Nichols most valuable dispensers. The case went up mid-May.

Kelley explained that the dispensers with no feet on the bottom are the most valuable ones in the collection because they are no longer being made. They are said to go for almost $150 apiece, according to Kelley.

In addition to the case that was built, Vermette also designed a large Pez sign to mount above the display case.

“I love the Pez sign and I love the different colors and characters that I remember and loved as a kid, like The Wizard Of Oz and the Flintstones,” Kelley said.

To remain in keeping with the theme of the museum itself, Kelley and Vermette designed a Pez Scavenger Hunt, hiding pictures of 15 different Pez dispensers throughout the museum.

Kelley felt it was a good way to keep the visitors interested, while also showing off the expansive collection of dispensers and accessories.   

The museum has no plans on taking down the display anytime soon. In fact, Kelley said that she hopes to switch out the Pez dispensers every so often, so that after a while visitors will be able to see all 2,000 dispensers.

The museum is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays; and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

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