The Strong Museum of Play in downtown Rochester, NY was opened originally in 1982 housing toys, dolls, games and more, starting with the collection of Margaret Woodbury Strong. It is the home of the National Toy Hall of Fame and the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. Their collections overall number nearly a half million objects including over 60,000 objects in the video game area. We were given a tour of their public display collection called “eGameRevolution”. I was also shown much of the archived collection by Jon-Paul C. Dyson, the Director of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games and Vice President for Exhibits.
Without a doubt, like many people I have met over the last year, JP has an amazing heart for video games and everything about them. While it is his job to preserve history and display it for the masses, there is no doubt you can see the love in his eyes for the work that he does.
The public video game exhibits reside on the 2nd floor of The Strong, so we pass by the Barbie, Monopoly, Twister exhibits and more as we make our way up into an area that is a wonderful crossbreed of an arcade scene, a museum with cool objects behind glass, and video game consoles you can play. Included in the collection are computers donated by famous video game programmers like John Romero, of ID Software fame, and Bill Budge, whose Pinball Construction set I spent tons of time using back in the early 1980s. An original Brown Box unit by Ralph Baer, Alamogordo dig ET cartridges, and a recreation of the Tennis for Two game from 1958 are all there behind glass to check out. Being this was my second time to The Strong, I only spent about 3 hours checking out things, but especially if you bring kids with
you, this can easily be a full museum day, for both the kids and the adults. Make sure to find the Pinball area downstairs and put some quarters in the arcade upstairs!
JP Dyson tells us “Much of our attention over the next two years will also be focused on a major 100,000 sq. ft. museum expansion (to the museum’s existing 285,000 sq. ft). Two of the major exhibits in that area will be a 10,000 sq. ft. World Video Game Hall of Fame gallery and a 15,000 sq. ft. exhibit in which players are immersed in the world of video games.” That is where the video games will be getting even more attention.
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