Pinball Playfields Exhibit Opens at The Strong May 24

The Strong News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 585-263-2700

April 28, 2014

For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365,

Kim Della Porta, 585-410-6325,

Pinball Playfields Opens
at The Strong Museum
on May 24

Play your way through more than 80 years of pinball history at Pinball Playfields, an original exhibit opening alongside Boardwalk Arcade at The Strong® National Museum of Play® on Saturday, May 24. The exhibit traces the evolution of the pinball playfield—the surface where the ball ricochets through a maze of lights and obstacles to rack up points—from countertop games of the 1930s to the sophisticated electronic versions that remain popular today.  

View four pioneering pinball machines from The Strong’s collections—Ballyhoo (1932), named after a 1930s humor magazine; World’s Fair Jigsaw (1933), which features a mechanical jigsaw puzzle on its’ playfield; Humpty Dumpty (1947), the first machine to use flippers; and Triple Action (1948), the first game with two sets of flippers positioned at the bottom of the playfield. “These four machines illustrate how quickly the pinball playfield evolved from a board with pins and scoring holes to a popping and flipping electro-mechanical marvel. And these are just a sampling of the more than 200 historically significant video arcade and pinball machines collected by The Strong in recent years,” says Jeremy Saucier, assistant director for The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. 

Guests can also pull the plunger and try to rack up high scores on a field of playable machines from The Strong’s collections that further illuminate the evolution of pinball machine game play, including Vagabond (1962), FunHouse (1990), Monster Bash (1998), Lord of the Rings (2003), and Emerald City Limited Edition Wizard of Oz (2013).
Be one of the few to wrap your arms around Hercules (1979), the world’s largest commercial pinball machine. The jumbo-sized machine uses a billards cue ball and stands seven feet tall. The original version of the game created such intense vibrations that it shook itself apart. Atari purchased the concept, redesigned it to make it sturdier, and released it in 1979.                          

View other unique artifacts, including late 19th and early 20th century bagatelle and marble games that inspired pinball-makers, playfield prototypes, and original sketches by pinball machine designer George Gomez of Stern Pinball. Then design your own pinball playfield and see if you have what it takes to be a professional pinball designer.

Pinball Playfields is produced by The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games and remains at the museum through September 7, 2014.

Please note: Playable machines in Pinball Playfields require purchased tokens. Money collected from the sale of tokens helps maintain these original artifacts.


Museum Hours: Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

General Admission Fees (does not include admission to Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden®): age 2 and older $13.50, under age 2 free, members free.

Admission to Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden: General Admission fee plus $3 for members, $4 for nonmembers, under age 2 free. Entry is by timed ticket only.

Parking: Free parking is available at the museum for all guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that, on high visitation days, the museum lot may reach capacity early in the day. If space is not available on site at the time of your visit, additional parking is available at neighboring municipal garages for a fee. The Strong is not responsible for fees incurred at off-site locations.