2009 Annual Report Highlights

The Strong

In 2009, The Strong was known as Strong National Museum of Play. Through a multi-faceted array of programming, exhibits, research, and other interpretive activities, it served diverse audiences and enjoyed record attendance.

National Museum of Play
National Center for the History of Electronic Games
National Toy Hall of Fame
Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play
American Journal of Play

American Comic Book Heroes exhibit
American Comic Book Heroes: The Battle of Good and Evil
  • Welcomed nearly 570,000 guests on site, representing all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and 21 foreign countries

  • Through 5 national programmatic elements—Strong National Museum of Play, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the National Center for the History of Electronic Games, the American Journal of Play, and the Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play—served an expanded audience of adults, families, children, students, teachers, scholars, collectors, and others

  • Delighted 17,800 member households

  • Added nearly 16,000 objects to world-class collections of dolls, toys, games, and electronic games

  • Devised and launched a new Online Collections feature on the museum’s website

  • Designed, developed, and opened 2 original exhibits: American Comic Book Heroes: The Battle of Good vs. Evil and Celebrating America’s Favorite Doll

  • Added a second institutional blog—CHEGheads blog—and posted more than 40 blogs by staff members

Grants of Note

  • Institute of Museum and Library Services, $149,760, to support the development of the upcoming America at Play exhibit

  • Department of Homeland Security, $75,000, as part of their Urban Areas Security Initiative, to improve overall site and facilities security

See also Grants and Gifts

National Acclaim

Local, regional, and national media covered a wide range of museum news and happenings:

  • National television programs including CBS Morning News and The Daily Show

  • National Public Radio and Sirius Radio

  • National magazines and newspapers such as Car & TravelChicago TribuneNew York PostNew York TimesParents magazine, Playthings magazine, and USA Today

  • Local market newspapers such as Arizona RepublicAtlanta Journal-ConstitutionCleveland Plain DealerCincinnati EnquirerDaytona Beach News-JournalDes Moines Register, Honolulu Star-BulletinIndianapolis StarMemphis Commercial AppealMilwaukee Journal SentinelOakland TribuneRoanoke TimesSt. Louis Post-DispatchSt. Petersburg TimesSan Diego Union-TribuneSeattle Times, and Washington Times

  • Video game industry publications and websites including Evil Avatar, Gamasutra, PCWorld, Wired, and Yahoo

Strong National Museum of Play

Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum Collection
Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum Collection

Key Acquisitions

  • More than 1,400 Raggedy Ann and Andy items from the Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum in Illinois

  • More than 600 Berenstain Bears products donated by the Berenstain family in Pennsylvania

  • More than 50 miniature rooms and hundreds of related items 


  • Voted “Best of Rochester” for kids’ entertainment by CITY Newspaper readers

  • Named Democrat & Chronicle’s “Readers’ Choice” for best museum for the 8th consecutive year

  • Designated a 5-star destination by TripAdvisor.com



  • Celebrating America’s Favorite Doll, a commemorative display paying tribute to Barbie’s 50-year history (opened June 27, 2009)

  • American Comic Book Heroes: The Battle of Good vs. Evil, a highly interactive, original exhibit covering 7 decades of comic book history (opened October 17, 2009)


  • The Adventures of Mr. Potato Head, created by the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in collaboration with PLAYSKOOL (January 24–May 10, 2009)

  • Videotopia, produced by the Electronics Conservancy (May 30–November 1, 2009)

  • Art of the Brick, sculptures by LEGO-brick artist Nathan Sawaya (December 9, 2009–March 14, 2010)

Public Program Highlights

School bus entrance
School Bus Entrance at The Strong

School Program Highlights

  • Delivered school lessons to nearly 20,000 Western New York students

  • Provided professional development experiences to more than 300 pre-service and in-service teachers

  • Offered professional development programs to faculty and students from Empire State College, Nazareth College, and SUNY Geneseo

  • Welcomed more than 50 three- and four-year-olds to museum’s Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury Preschool

  • Hosted 1,120 visits from college students that worked on curriculum-related assignments

Community Outreach

  • The Summer SUN (Strong Urban Neighborhoods) program provided facilitated museum experiences free of charge for 1,100 urban youth from more than 30 different community organizations.

  • In cooperation with more than 60 different agencies, Passport to Family Fun made the museum accessible to hundreds of financially challenged families.

  • The Foster Family Admissions program provided museum experiences for 1,200 foster families (in collaboration with 18 agencies in 11 counties).

  • Early Intervention Play Therapy Access and Pediatric Residency Play Observation programs served hundreds of families with special needs.

  • In November, in association with National Adoption Month, the museum hosted a Children Awaiting Parents exhibit featuring photographs of children eligible for adoption.

National Center for the History of Electronic Games (NCHEG)

The National Center for the History of Electronic Games was established on February 20, 2009, with nearly 20,000 electronic games and related items, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of its kind in the nation.

Arcade games
International Center for the History of Electronic Games Arcade Collection

Key Acquisitions

  • 5,500 educational electronic games

  • More than 100 arcade video games

  • Over 1,100 manuals representing almost every strategy guide and cheat code book issued by Prima Games, the leading publisher of strategy content for PC and console video games

  • 2,000 video games

Additional Highlights

  • Enlisted 3 dozen industry leaders from around the country as informal advisors

  • Opened the NCHEG Lab where scholars and other researchers can conduct supervised research on the museum’s electronic games collection

  • Development of the NCHEG website and CHEGheads blog, collectively attracting 80,000 visitors in its first year

  • Presented at the Dust or Magic 10th Annual Children’s Media New Design conference and the inaugural TEDx Rochester event

National Toy Hall of Fame

The National Toy Hall of Fame recognizes toys that have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period. In 2009, the prestigious hall welcomed two new toy inductees.

Toy Hall of Fame induction ceremony
2009 National Toy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

2009 Induction

  • Honored the ball, Big Wheel, and Game Boy as 2009 inductees (November 5)

  • Generated national news coverage including mentions on 334 local television newscasts for an estimated Nielsen audience of 16 million, 131 local newspaper print references with a combined readership exceeding 12 million, and stories on 95 websites with readership of 49.4 million

  • Garnered attention on nationally broadcast late shows including The Daily Show and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

  • Recognized other toy finalists under consideration for the 2009 induction: Cabbage Patch Kids, The Game of Life, Hot Wheels, paper airplane, playing cards, Rubik’s Cube, sidewalk chalk, tea sets, and Transformers

  • Celebrated National Toy Hall of Fame inductees with special activities at Strong National Museum of Play on November 7 and 8

Additional Highlights

  • Through a partnership agreement with Running Press, published Classic Toys of the National Toy Hall of Fame

Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play

In 2009, the museum’s research library was renamed The Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play in honor of America’s foremost play scholar. In addition to housing the personal library and papers of its preeminent namesake, the 130,000-volume research library and archives holds a full spectrum of primary and secondary sources, including scholarly works, professional journals, other periodicals, trade catalogs, children’s books, comic books, manuscripts, personal papers, business records, and more.

Key Acquisitions

  • Papers and journals of Francis W. Carpenter, a late-19th-century Massachusetts toy manufacturer whose materials document in detail toy sales of that era

  • 1,300 toy catalogs representing an unparalleled record of the toy and recreation industries

American Journal of Play

American Journal of Play cover
American Journal of Play Volume 1 Number 1

The American Journal of Play enjoyed its first full year of publication.