2011 Annual Report Highlights

The Strong

Monopoly exhibit
Monopoly: An American Icon

The Strong is a highly interactive, collections-based educational institution devoted to the study and exploration of play. The Strong carries out its mission through five programmatic arms called “Play Partners.” Each Play Partner provides a unique framework through which The Strong develops, organizes, and delivers educational services.

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

  • Welcomed nearly 570,000 on site, including guests from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands, Canada, Europe, Southern and Central America, Africa, Asia, and Australia

  • Delighted more than 18,500 member households

  • Added more than 6,000 objects to world-class collections and nearly 14,000 records to the online collections database

  • Opened Monopoly: An American Icon, a display of rare and historic versions of Monopoly board games never before gathered together in one public space

  • Hosted conferences, seminars, and tours for the Association for the Study of Play, Antique Toy Collectors of America, Preserving Virtual Worlds advisory committee, International Association for the Philosophy of Sport, and others

  • Play Ball guests
    James Norman (left), Amanda Wong-Jensen (left center), Lois Norman (right center), and Craig Jensen (right)

    Initiated the Play Ball, The Strong’s inaugural fundraising event at the National Museum of Play

  • Posted more than 80 new blogs

  • Welcomed 13 interns representing 9 colleges

  • Named Non-Profit Marketer of the Year by the Rochester chapter of the American Marketing Association

Grants of Note

  • Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, $500,000, for the continued growth and development of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games

  • Institute of Museum and Library Services, $113,277, to help establish best practices for video game and electronic artifact conservation

  • The Greater Hudson Heritage Network, $7,500, to conserve and treat three historic Monopoly sets

See also Grants and Gifts

National Acclaim

  • National television shows and networks such as 60 Minutes, CNN, 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show, Jeopardy, and Travel Channel either reported on activities of The Strong or used it as a resource

  • National radio programs and networks including Martha Stewart Living and National Public Radio aired staff interviews

  • National newspapers and magazine coverage included Business Week, Los Angeles TimesNew York Daily NewsNew York PostTime, and Wall Street Journal

  • National and international websites such as those for ABC, Associated Press, The Atlantic magazine, Boston GlobeBusiness Week, CNBC, Consumer Reports, Discovery NewsForbes, Fox News, Huffington PostLondon Daily and Sunday Express, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, Toronto StarUS News and World Report, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Yahoo! Finance reported on Play Partner activities

  • Local market newspaper coverage included articles in Arizona RepublicAtlanta Journal-ConstitutionBoston Globe, Chicago Sun Times, Denver Post, Des Moines Register, Detroit News, Florida Today, Fort Worth Star-TelegramIndianapolis StarKansas City StarMilwaukee Journal SentinelNewsdayPalm Beach PostSacramento BeeSeattle Times, and Tampa Tribune

  • Video game industry publications and websites such as Blistered Thumbs, Computer Graphics World, Evil Avatar, Gamasutra, Game Career Guide News, Game Set Watch, Gamer Daily News, GoNintendo, Interactive Entertainment, and Microsoft News covered important ICHEG announcements

National Museum of Play

The National Museum of Play is the first and largest collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to play. It serves diverse audiences including families, children, adults, students, teachers, scholars, and collectors through a multitude of offerings.

Fisher-Price pull toys
Vintage Fisher-Price Pull Toys

Key Acquisitions

  • Early-19th-century toys and early-20th-century sports equipment from the collection of the Old Salem Toy Museum

  • Toys made by Marx and other mid-20th-century manufacturers

  • Vintage Fisher-Price wooden pull toys

  • Approximately 200 items from famed game designer Sid Sackson’s personal collection of games

  • Arto Monaco toys, prototypes, and souvenir materials

  • A rare 17th-century print of children at play titled “Out of Trifles—Children’s Games—Seriousness”


  • Included in Readers Digest list of the nation’s 10 best museums for children

  • Designated one of the 10 best children’s museums by Parents magazine

  • Named one of the best destinations for families in the Finger Lakes region by Frommer’s travel guide

  • Awarded “Readers’ Choice” for best museum—10th consecutive year—by readers of the Democrat and Chronicle

  • Named the Family Favorite Local Museum and Rainy Day Destination for the 5th year in a row by Genesee Valley Parent magazine

Monopoly exhibit
Monopoly: An American Icon



  • Monopoly: An American Icon, a display of rare and historic versions of Monopoly never before gathered together in one public space (Opened December 7, 2011)


  • TINKERTOY: Build Your Imagination,developed by the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in collaboration with PLAYSKOOL and GE (February 5–May 29, 2011)

  • Five Friends from Japan: Children in Japan Today, created by the Children’s Museum of Boston and Capital Children’s Museum and part of the Asian Exhibit Initiative, funded by the Freeman Foundation and administered by the Association of Children’s Museums. (June 18–September 11, 2011)

  • Mindbender Mansion, created and toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (May 29–September 6, 2011)

  • Football: The Exhibit, organized by the Arkansas Museum of Discovery (September 24, 2011–January 8, 2012)

Public Program Highlights

RIT Big Shot photo of museum
RIT Big Shot Photograph
  • Presented 105 public programs
    2011 Winter calendar
    2011 Spring calendar
    2011 Summer calendar
    2011 Fall calendar

  • RIT Big Shot Project (May)

  • Interactive art and Japanese vegetable garden added to the outdoor Discovery Garden (June–August)

  • Let’s Move! School-Break Week in partnership with Democrat and Chronicle (December)

  • Patch and badge activities for nearly 1,300 Boy and Girl Scouts (yearlong)

School Program Highlights

  • Delivered school lessons to nearly 17,000 Western New York students, including new offerings on or related to electronic games, maps, and the science and math of football

  • Provided professional development experiences to 539 pre-service and in-service teachers

  • Welcomed 58 three- and four-year-olds to the museum’s Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury Preschool

  • Continued Rochester City School District World of Inquiry School 58’s summer program for 1,290 students in grades K–6

  • Hosted nearly 300 visits from college students working on curriculum-related assignments

Community Outreach

  • Museum experiences were offered free of charge for 1,200 urban youth from more than 30 different community organizations through the Summer SUN (Strong Urban Neighborhoods) program

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

Additional Highlights

  • Loaned 17 clockwork toys to the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, PA for its Clockworks! exhibit and several dozen artifacts to St. John Fisher College for its Gender in the World series

  • Launched America at Play: Play Stories and installed two touch-screen video kiosks where museum guests can record their playful memories

  • Joined the Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens Initiative launched by Michelle Obama and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to fight childhood obesity

  • Developed 3 new online games based on museum collections—The Game of Baseball, Toy Trivia, and Steeple Chase—now available on the museum website

International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG)

At 35,000 artifacts and growing, ICHEG’s collection is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive public collection of video games and other electronic games.

Key Acquisitions

  • Ken and Roberta Williams collection
    Ken and Roberta Williams Collection

    Computer Gaming World Collection, the publication’s official archive

  • Additions to the Ralph H. Baer Papers, an extensive collection documenting 4 decades of his career in electronic game and toy design

  • Rare Giant Tetris and Pac-Man Battle Royale arcade video games, available for play in the eGameRevolution exhibit at The Strong’s National Museum of Play

  • Hundreds of items from Microsoft Corp. documenting the company’s innovative gaming history

  • A major collection of historic materials from Ken and Roberta Williams chronicling the 20-year history of Sierra On-Line, one of the most influential video game companies of the 1980s and 1990s

  • More than 8,000 computer and video game magazines from writer Kevin Gifford

  • Copies of nearly every issue of Game Developer magazine, the leading industry publication for producers of video games

Additional Highlights

  • ICHEG Director J. P. Dyson named one of the 50 most influential people in the video game industry for 2010–2011 by Game Developer Magazine

  • ICHEG’s eGameRevolution exhibit named a must visit for any geek by Techrepublic.com

  • Loaned half a dozen artifacts to the Computerspiele Museum in Berlin, Germany, for its Computer Games: Evolution of a Medium exhibit

  • Hosted an advisory committee meeting of the Preserving Virtual Worlds to explore methods for preserving digital games and interactive fiction

  • Welcomed University of Wisconsin professors Heather and Seth Warren-Crow as artists in residence during summer 2011

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 2011, the prestigious hall welcomed three new toy inductees.

2011 Induction

Toy Hall of Fame induction ceremony
2011 National Toy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
  • Honored Hot Wheels, dollhouse, and the blanket as 2011 inductees (November 10)

  • Generated national news coverage including 327 different local television newscasts for a Nielsen audience exceeding 10 million, and 234 print references and 739 online news articles for a combined readership of 244 million

  • Celebrated National Toy Hall of Fame inductees with special activities at The Strong’s National Museum of Play on November 12 and 13

  • Recognized other toy finalists under consideration for the 2011 induction: Dungeons & Dragons, Jenga, Pogo Stick, puppets, R/C vehicles, Rubik’s Cube, Simon, Star Wars action figures, Transformers, and Twister

Additional Highlights

  • The Strong’s National Toy of Fame featured as a category on Jeopardy on June 24 and in a question on ABC’s 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show on July 12

  • The National Toy Hall of Fame recognized as the centerpiece answer in the Sunday, April 3 Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle

Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play

The Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play is the only library and archives devoted solely to collecting and preserving materials that illustrate and document the role of play in learning and human development, and the ways in which it illuminates cultural history.

Key Acquisitions

Brian Sutton-Smith
Brian Sutton-Smith and former director of The Strong's Library, Carol Sandler
  • Important additions to the C. J. Rogers Papers including 47 field notebooks, VHS tapes, and conference materials related to Rogers’s observations of wolves at play

  • A rare and early sample book illustrating important J. & E. Stevens Company cast iron toys

  • A collection of early children’s books from internationally renowned early childhood educator Vivian Paley

Additional Highlights

  • Brian Sutton-Smith, America’s best-known play scholar, toured the library and archives that bear his name while visiting The Strong for The Association for the Study of Play (TASP) 37th Annual International Conference

  • Library Director Carol Sandler presented “Why Should Children Play? History, Ideas, Development” at a librarians’ conference at LEOGLAND in Billund, Denmark

  • Visiting researchers included Curator Peggy Kidwell from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and scholars from Maine, Oregon, and Ontario, Canada

American Journal of Play

American Journal of Play cover
American Journal of Play Volume 3 Number 4

The American Journal of Play, The Strong’s peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary quarterly with a global readership aims to increase awareness and understanding of the role of play in learning and human development. The publication moved to free online distribution in mid-2011. Current and archived issues may now be viewed at journalofplay.org.