Playing with Puppies

Playing with Puppies

We have all heard the saying that a dog is man’s (and woman’s too) best friend. We love dogs so much that they even have their own special day—National Puppy Day! Canine companionship has been around for eons and extends from pets to working dogs. Whether they are snuggle buddies, sled pullers, or law enforcement…

Play for All Seasons

Play for All Seasons

I receive a lot of strange looks whenever I tell people that I look forward to the end of summer. Perhaps your face has morphed into such an expression after reading that. But there is logic behind my claim. It seems to me that the opportunity for play during the autumn and winter months is…

Rolling Out the First Driving Game

Rolling Out the First Driving Game

I’ve admired The Strong’s vintage Drive-Mobile arcade game since the first time I stood in front of it with Martin Reinhardt, the museum’s arcade game conservation technician. It was exciting to see how the first arcade driving game—a popular and enduring genre—actually worked. Martin opened the back of the game for me and demonstrated the…

“True Hollywood” Toy Stories: Tales of the Games and Toys We Love

"True Hollywood” Toy Stories: Tales of the Games and Toys We Love

When I was an undergraduate, I was obsessed with the television program E! True Hollywood Story. Each week, I took a salacious rollercoaster ride through the ups and downs of a celebrity’s life. Right before each commercial break, the narrator assured me that either the star was about to be saved from his downward spiral…

“Down at Fraggle Rock!”

“Down at Fraggle Rock!”

While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I worked as a DJ for the college radio station. One spring semester, I had a timeslot of 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday afternoons. I remember the sun often shining, and everyone being in a good mood as they prepared for the weekend. That’s when I started a tradition…

Fun at the Drive-In

Fun at the Drive-In

My favorite artifact in America at Play, an exhibit that opened on The Strong’s second floor in December 2016, isn’t the oldest, the biggest, or the showiest. But it’s one that transports me to another place and time. Which artifact has such magical powers? It’s the Remco Movieland Drive-In Theater play set from 1959. Today,…

But We Play It Like This: House Rules for Games

But We Play It Like This: House Rules for Games

Here’s a fun experiment: suggest playing a game of Monopoly and predict the responses you’ll receive. More often than not, you’ll be hit with an audible groan and the familiar refrain of “Has anyone ever actually finished a game of Monopoly?” Admittedly, I used to be anti-Monopoly myself. (During high school, my friend Meg and…

Have You Hugged a Troll Doll Lately?

Have You Hugged a Troll Doll Lately?

I first encountered troll dolls in the mid-1970s. My younger sister had one that she loved greatly and played with all the time. In fact, she played with her troll doll (named “Sloppy Joe Head”) so much that eventually all of his hair fell out and his felt clothes were torn to shreds. When we…

Rare! Weird! Collectible! A Great Donation of Board Games

Rare! Weird! Collectible! A Great Donation of Board Games

The Strong’s board game collection is unique in all the world. Unlike specialized collectors, the museum thinks broadly about what it acquires, striving to represent both ancient and modern examples, simple games and complex ones, and extremely typical editions and rare versions for the varieties of play they represent, as well as the cultures that…

From Tall to Small: The Lure of Exotic Animals

From Tall to Small: The Lure of Exotic Animals

Having grown up with dogs, cats, a rabbit, and the occasional fish or two, naturally I consider myself an animal lover. Like many folks who fall into this category, my love of creatures is not limited to domestic varieties, but extends well beyond to animals of sea, sky, and land, particularly exotic animals such as…