Free Play among the Furniture

Free Play among the Furniture

Make-believe makes a big difference. Children’s pretend play equips them for real life, write Julie A. Fiorelli and Sandra W. Russ in their 2012 article for the American Journal of Play. Fantasy play is essential to children’s health and welfare, affirms Vivian Gussin Paley in another Journal issue. Traveling through time and space, assuming imaginary…

About Time: How Kids Perceive It, and Why They Wear Watches

About Time: How Kids Perceive It, and Why They Wear Watches

Did you wear a wristwatch when you were a kid? I recall owning at least half a dozen watches, all prized possessions, but I don’t remember checking my wrist very often. When a collections project here at the National Museum of Play at The Strong unearthed a Funtime Barbie watch that sent me into a…

Physical Fitness: Play or Punishment?

Physical Fitness: Play or Punishment?

As the Olympic Games conclude, I can’t help but remember my years as a star athlete . . . just kidding. People who condition their bodies and minds for extreme competition will forever surpass my skill and understanding. However, I appreciate their urge to better themselves through feats of athleticism. And I, like many of…

Have Toys—Will Travel

Have Toys—Will Travel

Have you ever wondered how The Strong uses artifacts not currently on display at the National Museum of Play? Scholars from around the world visit Rochester to study firsthand The Strong’s collections, which are unique not only for their rarities but for their breadth and depth. Museums also borrow The Strong’s artifacts for temporary exhibitions,…

Play-Time: Racing Against the Clock

Play-Time: Racing Against the Clock

Consider a paradox: people who play the fastest devote great lengths of time to doing so. This presents a conundrum only slightly less challenging than a Rubik’s Cube—unless you’re the current world record holder, who solved the puzzling polyhedron in less than six seconds. If you asked champion Feliks Zemdegs, he’d probably say the goal…

New Year’s Resolutions from the Artifacts

New Year’s Resolutions from the Artifacts

Some folks have reported visions of sugarplums recently—I’ve worked so closely with museum artifacts that I’m hearing their voices. Call me the Toy Whisperer or just plain loopy, but I listen when the museum’s toys and games talk about their New Year’s resolutions. The artifacts have some ambitious goals for 2012, but this doesn’t surprise…

The Open Road

The Open Road

Getting behind the wheel can be stressful. Congestion, construction, and detours are no day at the beach . . . especially when all we want to do is make it to the beach. Most of us enjoy a good road trip, but with so many obstacles taking the air out of our tires, who can…

Standing Up for Sidekicks: An Appeal to Heroes

Standing Up for Sidekicks: An Appeal to Heroes

Holy relationship crisis! Batman, is Robin your sidekick or your partner? Think you can get away with calling him just a chum? Empty words for a guy who’s always had your back. Heroes fighting for justice and peace should defend a new cause: equal rights for so-called sidekicks. As Batman looms over the National Museum…

Saluting the Statue of Liberty

Saluting the Statue of Liberty

As anticipation builds for the royal newlyweds’ first official North American tour, I’m reminded yet again of how beautiful Kate Middleton (er, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) looked. With billions of eyes on her as she towed a nearly nine-foot train across Westminster Abbey, she embodied poise and grace, winning many admirers at home and overseas….

More than Words: Theater’s Unsung Heroes

More than Words: Theater’s Unsung Heroes

Rolling my artifact cart through the exhibits at The Strong’s National Museum of Play, I often spot guests who are shoo-ins for the stage. These budding thespians linger under the colorful lights in Kid to Kid and the majestic red curtain in Reading Adventureland’s Fairy Tale Forest. There’s nothing like playing at plays—take it from…