What Christmas would be complete without the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, designed for the 2001 Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments collection by Chris Webb. (Images by the author for Hyperallergic, unless otherwise noted)

Michiganders have a powerful love of Christmas. Never a people to exhibit excessive pride, one nonetheless detects a sort of edge to the pitch of Christmastime in the Midwest, with aggressive hospitality expressed through homemade holiday cookie exchange, festive sweaters worn without a trace of irony, and of course, adorning the Christmas tree with a selection of ornaments carefully curated over a lifetime of collecting. Here is where Hallmark corporation has staked out territory in many a Christmas-celebrating US home.

Ornament from the introductory 1973 Hallmark Keepsake Ornament collection. (Image courtesy of The Henry Ford Museum)

Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments were first produced in 1973, and have maintained a foothold in Christmas tradition ever since. Each year sees the introduction of a new set of ornaments, which present a mix of nostalgia, population culture themes, and of course, Santa-centric imagery. While the earliest ornaments conformed to the basic ball shape with different decorative surface treatments, by 1975, the company was beginning to branch out in the direction of molded 3D figures and shapes.

A 1976 Hallmark Keepsake Ornament. (Image courtesy of The Henry Ford Museum)

Santa is a popular motif for Hallmark ornaments, with his earliest appearance as a molded figurine in 1975. This ornament is from the 1979 collection. (Image courtesy of The Henry Ford Museum)

Now Michganders and fans of the holiday season culture can rejoice, as the Henry Ford Museum is now home to one of the most comprehensive collections of Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments ever assembled. The museum acquired 6,600 ornaments from Indiana Hallmark retailer, the Party Shop, in November, and has a small selection currently on display for this Christmas season. Ornaments in the collection date from 1973 to 2009, and include Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Collectors Club, and miniatures and lighted ornaments, as well as Dream Books, banners, and a small collection of the store’s documents and point-of-purchase displays. A more permanent display of the acquisition is in the works, but a storefront-style exhibition case is already open, to showcase a few of the highlights.

A perfect cross-section of throwback pop culture (It’s a Small World), contemporary pop (Spiderman), and generalized Christmas nostalgia (Christmas Cookies) in this selection of 2004 Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments on display at The Henry Ford Museum.

“Hallmark’s Keepsake ornaments have become an essential part of Americans’ holiday traditions,” said Patricia Mooradian, president & CEO of The Henry Ford, in a press release announcing the acquisition. “Over the years Hallmark has transformed the way we decorate for the holidays by taking risks and rethinking the design, technology and marketing of its products — all while remaining true to their vision and core values.”

Though the movie “A Christmas Story” (1983) is classic 80s fare, this commemorative ornament is part of the 2009 collection, suggesting that it takes awhile for Hallmark to determine which parts of the zeitgeist to memorialize in its ornament series.

The collection seems like a great fit for the Henry Ford, whose collection includes a great number of motifs and objects memorialized by Hallmark in their ornaments. For example, the life-sized Oscar Meyer Wienermobile is parked within eyeshot of the ornament case where it is presented in miniature for the 2001 HKO collection. The museum also has trains, classic cars, and an entire working diner — all of which fall within the popular aesthetics for Hallmark ornaments.

It’s Christmas and wieners are in the air? The real Oscar Meyer Wienermobile on display at The Henry Ford Museum.

So if your Christmas plans include a visit to Holiday Nights at THF’s Greenfield Village, where nighttime holiday revelers can take carriage rides, wander the historical museum grounds, and be subjected to frankly quite disturbing throwback wassailing, remember that on the adjacent campus is a collection of heartwarming Hallmark moments, just waiting to make you say, “Ooh!” “Ah!” and occasionally, “Huh.”

The 1992 HKO roundup, on display at The Henry Ford Museum.

There’s no place like Hallmark! (Image courtesy of The Henry Ford Museum)

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit — including at the Detroit Institute of Arts....