Screen-Play: Succession Planning in the Playroom

Screen-Play: Succession Planning in the Playroom

Detail from William Nicholson's illustration for Margery Williams's The Velveteen Rabbit, 1922.When I leave The Strong this week after almost seven years, a shiny, new collections manager will take the helm. I feel like the well-worn toy Margery Williams describes in The Velveteen Rabbit who becomes Real when the Boy loves him and when the nursery magic Fairy sets him free. Except for the trials of becoming Real, the Rabbit’s greatest anxiety is being forgotten or replaced. And here I am, undergoing the process willingly when so many toys are not able to choose when their time in the spotlight may end.

Humphrey Beargart teddy bear, North American Bear Co., Inc., 1983, gift of Sandra Shutt, courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York.In the Full House episode “Goodbye, Mr. Bear” (ABC, 1989), Stephanie panics when she can’t find her favorite stuffed animal. Fans of the series spot Mr. Bear in many episodes, and in this particular one we learn that Steph’s late mother gave her the teddy as a gift when she brought baby Michelle home from the hospital. Mr. Bear is one of Stephanie’s last ties to Pam. Fortunately the dapper fellow isn’t lost forever; Michelle has only hidden him from her sister. Cue the sentimental music.

Well, That’s Different! Conservation Challenges within The Strong’s Unique Collection

Well, That’s Different! Conservation Challenges within The Strong’s Unique Collection

During our training, conservators usually specialize in a specific type of material, such as paper or paintings. As we become professionals, we find ourselves in institutions with diverse collections which requires broad conservation knowledge for all of the artifacts under our care, not just those comprised of our favorite material. Nowhere is this truer than…

Glow-in-the-Dark Toys

Glow-in-the-Dark Toys

As a kid in the late 1970s and early 80s, glow-in-the-dark toys fascinated me. During the summer months, my friends and I would play outdoors as much as we could. Even after the sun went down, we tried to cling to every moment we had to play. Toys that “lit up” in the dark furthered…

100 Years of Tinkering

100 Years of Tinkering

Toys reflect the times in which they are made, and it follows, that as time passes, these toys fade away and are often replaced by newer toys. A few toys—like many in the National Toy Hall of Fame—though, remain popular for decades. Some even endure for several generations—like Tinkertoys. The Tinkertoy chronicle began more than…

Simon Says: Thanks, Ralph

Simon Says: Thanks, Ralph

I was deeply saddened to hear that Ralph H. Baer had died on December 6, 2014, at the age of 92. As numerous other writers have noted, Ralph invented the “Brown Box” home video game console (produced as the Magnavox Odyssey) and the electronic game Simon. He donated his professional papers to The Strong, and…

Four Dolls, Three Bears, Two Bunnies, and One Plastic Guy: Books about Play Pals

Four Dolls, Three Bears, Two Bunnies, and One Plastic Guy: Books about Play Pals

As Director of Libraries at The Strong, I acquire scholarly books on the study of play for the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play. Although tracking down weighty academic tomes is quite fulfilling, I would be dishonest if I said that selecting children’s books for the Grada Hopeman Gelser Library didn’t liven up my…

Screen-Play: Hey There Hi There Ho There, Mickey Mouse Club!

Screen-Play: Hey There Hi There Ho There, Mickey Mouse Club!

I’ve struggled to catch Saturday Night Live’s 40th season because I’m either out and about or asleep on the couch (usually the latter). But there’s a variety show that’s made for me—particularly due to its time slot and content—and it’s also celebrating an anniversary this year. The Mickey Mouse Club is turning 60. Walt Disney…

Recess Memories

Recess Memories

Many will remember how recess became the highlight of a grade-schooler’s day. At my own elementary school outdoor recess brought together classmates of all athletic abilities and creative talents. On the playground, the swing set filled up quickly with kids aiming to swing high and launch themselves into a pile of wood chips. Girls with…

Our Furry Friends

Our Furry Friends

What comes to mind when you hear the word “animal”? Do you envision farm animals, your pet at home, or something a bit more wild? Perhaps you even think of a Muppet or two. Either way, it’s hard to ignore that animals fulfill a pretty big role when it comes to play. As toddlers, many…

Monkeying around with Sock Monkeys

Monkeying around with Sock Monkeys

The beloved sock monkey is easily recognizable, cute, silly, and soft, but where did it originate? According to Bonnie Krauss Connelly’s book, Everything’s Coming up Sock Monkeys!: Art, History and Business of the American Sock Monkey, the classic toy’s beginnings can be traced back to Rockford, Illinois, where Swedish immigrant John Nelson settled in 1852….