The Strong Breaks Ground on
Major Expansion Project and
Launches Capital Campaign
ROCHESTER, NY—The Strong National Museum of Play
broke ground today on its next evolution, a 100,000-square-foot museum expansion and parking garage. Expected to be completed by the summer of 2020, the expansion will be the centerpiece of the Neighborhood of Play, an urban development that’s a walkable, green place to live, work, and play. The Strong’s growth will allow it to increase collections storage, develop new exhibits, create flexible classrooms, and provide a new home for the World Video Game Hall of Fame
and its Women in Games initiative.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build something that will be transformational for our members, our guests, and our region,” says Steve Dubnik, president and CEO. “Through this project, we will extend our international reach and contribute to a modern-day renaissance for the region.”
Planning for the project began in 2013 when the City of Rochester moved forward with filling in the Inner Loop—an underutilized expressway—creating pockets of developable land. In 2015, the Strong undertook extensive market research which showed the museum could attract nearly 400,000 more people to Rochester (in addition to its current annual attendance of 550,000) with expanded facilities and broader marketing efforts in nearby markets such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Toronto.
“The Strong is already one of the top attractions in the United States and the ultimate destination for play,” says Dubnik. “This expansion will increase our capacity to carry out our play-based mission and increase our attendance to nearly one million guests per year—providing an economic boost for our community.”
The expansion, designed by CJS Architects and managed by LeChase Construction Services, is slated to include a new welcome atrium with improved amenities; flexible space for school programs; dynamic new exhibits, including a new home for the World Video Game Hall of Fame
, an immersive video game experience and exhibitions about the impact of women on the video game industry; a high-adventure ropes course; a new, interactive outdoor play garden with a nearby cafe; and expanded collections storage facilities, which will increase the museum’s ability to preserve the history of play and to be stewards of the toy and video game industry history. The parking garage, which will be playfully themed, will provide nearly 1,000 safe, family friendly, covered parking spaces for guests, members, and the museum’s growing audience.
Alongside the groundbreaking, the museum launched a $60-million capital campaign—Powered by Play
—to help fund the project. The museum has raised nearly half of the funds to date through individual, foundation, government, and corporate support. These funds will cover the first phase of the project, and The Strong will continue to raise funds for the second phase in the coming months, drawing on local and national support for the project.
“While this is a national campaign in scope, it’s also a community-wide endeavor. The support and advocacy of our community is vital to our success and our ability to welcome many more guests to The Strong,” says Laura Saxby Lynch, chair of The Strong’s Board of Trustees.
The Strong’s expansion and Neighborhood of Play, which will include new amenities, such as a hotel and mixed retail spaces funded and operated by partners Indus Hospitality and Konar Properties, are projected to generate more than $130 million in annual economic impact for the Rochester-area.
About The Strong
The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame
, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play
and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play.