2012 Annual Report Highlights

The Strong

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 more than 565,000 guests 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

  • Library of play
    Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play

    Delighted more than 18,500 member households

  • Added more than 8,000 objects to world-class collections and 14,000 new records to online collections, making that database one of the largest among history museums anywhere

  • Announced The Strong Research Fellowships to provide financial support for scholarly play research amid The Strong’s world-renowned collections of toys, games, board games, electronic games, and play-related records and historical archives

  • Hosted conferences, seminars, and tours for Empire State College, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Consumer Electronics Society, State University of New York Geneseo, State University of New York Oneonta Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies, Toy Industry Association, and others

  • Posted more than 130 blogs including 30 to the new re:Play blog and 16 to the new Play In Mind launched in April on Psychology Today online

  • Play Ball guests
    Zeke Duda (left) and Jane Duda (right)

    Welcomed 12 interns representing 8 colleges

  • Raised more than $100,000 to support The Strong’s education and outreach programs at the Play Ball fundraising gala and, with Fleet Street Sports and Yellow Jacket Racing, welcomed nearly 1,300 runners to the inaugural Reindeer Run to benefit The Strong

  • Recognized by Healthi Kids, a Rochester-based coalition advocating for healthier, more active children as an invaluable partner in obesity prevention and for its role in promoting the importance of play in education

  • Responder to an invitation to propose a world-class sports museum—the North American Museum of Sports and Culture—as an integral part of a new retractable-roof stadium, park, and entertainment complex proposed for Buffalo’s Outer Harbor

Grants of Note

  • The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, $150,000, to complete Game Time!, a 4,200 square-foot exhibit and second thematic zone of America At Play opening April 2013

  • New York State Council on the Arts, $56,000, for general operating support

  • Citizens Bank, $10,000, in support of The Strong’s Passport to Family Fun program

See also Grants and Gifts.

National Acclaim

  • National television shows and networks such as JeopardyNBC Nightly News,and Travel Channel either reported on activities of The Strong or used it as a resource

  • National Public Radio aired interviews with staff of The Strong

  • National newspaper and magazine coverage included Conde Nast Traveler, Food Network Magazine, Forbes, Hollywood ReporterKiplinger, New York MagazineNew York PostOfficial Xbox Magazine, TimeUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal

  • National and international websites such as those for ABC, Boston Globe,CBS News Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Fox NewsGMA News Online, Google Finance IMDB.com, International Business Times, New York Daily News, New York Times, Popular ScienceTime, Today.com, USA Today, Yahoo! News, and Yahoo! OMG reported on Play Partner activities

  • Local market coverage included hundreds of articles in newspapers such asAnchorage Daily News, Arizona Republic, Boston Globe, Buffalo News, Charlotte Observer, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch, Denver Post, Des Moines Register, Detroit News, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Miami Herald, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New York NewsdayOrange County Register, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Tampa Bay News, and Wisconsin State Journal

  • Video game industry publications and websites such as Core77.com, Family Friendly Gaming, Gamasutra, Gamers Daily News, Kill Screen Daily, Strategy Informer, Venture Beat, and VG247 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.

Key Acquisitions

  • Dolly Rekord doll
    Dolly Rekord

    A comprehensive collection of Muffy VanderBear stuffed animals made by the North America Bear Co. from collector Roberta Jacobson of Kinderhook, New York

  • Dolly Rekord, a 90-year-old talking doll produced by the Averill Manufacturing Company

  • Nearly 80 Winnie the Pooh items from collector Lisa Bartlett of Big Flats, New York

  • A fiberglass blue racer, photographs, books, and clothing that chronicle Dave Marra’s experiences in the 37th Monroe County Soapbox Derby and 1975 World Championship competition

  • A collection of 360 Buddy L toy trucks and other vehicles from Carol Chris Cameron of Wirtz, Virginia

  • The Andrew Cosman and Mary Valentine collection of more than 600 strategy games, war games, and other games

  • The game and toy collection of Monopoly expert and former Parker Brothers executive, Philip Orbanes of Gloucester, Massachusetts

  • Selected items formerly owned by Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons

  • A comprehensive collection of 1,950 Star Wars action figures assembled by Fon Davis, a former Industrial Light and Magic model maker who worked on the earliest Star Wars movies

  • A large group of G-scale trains from John Del Monte of Rochester, New York

  • Travel games from renowned historian William Cronon of Madison, Wisconsin


  • Named one of the best family-friendly attractions in New York State by Fox News

  • Recognized by Kiplinger magazine as one of the reasons that Rochester ranks as the nation’s 5th best city for families

  • Cited as one of the nation’s 12 best museums for families and children by Forbes magazine

  • Awarded “Readers’ Choice” for best museum—11th consecutive year—by readers of the Democrat and Chronicle

  • Earned a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, a distinction reserved for businesses consistently rated highest travelers

  • Named  one of the “Best Spots in the City” based on numerous top-scoring reviews on Yelp.com

  • Designated a model in guest services and featured prominently in A New Dimension for Customers: Customer 3D by Bill Self

  • Voted the Top Place to Take Kids in the Rochester area—for the 9th year in a row—by KidsOutandAbout.com readers

  • Named the Family Favorite Local Museum and Rainy Day Destination—for the 6th year in a row—by Genesee Valley Parent magazine

  • Distinguished as the Best Family Day Trip  by readers of Family Times, the parenting guide of Central New York



  • Dora & Diego exhibit
    Dora & Diego—Let's Explore!

    The Wizard of Oz, created by Miami Children’s Museum and SPARKS, in conjunction with Warner Bros. Consumer Products (January 21–May 13, 2012)

  • Design Zone, created and toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, Oregon and made possible with funds provided by the National Science Foundation (June 12–September 3, 2012)

  • Doodle 4 Google, a display of doodles designed by the 10 New York State Doodle 4 Google contest finalists (June 15–September 30, 2012)

  • Dora & Diego—Let’s Explore!, produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in cooperation with Nickelodeon and presented by the WellPoint Foundation (September 22, 2012–January 6, 2013)

Public Programs Highlights

  • Berenstain Bears 50th anniversary logo

    Presented nearly 100 public programs
    2012 Winter calendar
    2012 Spring calendar
    2012 Summer calendar
    2012 Fall calendar

  • Celebrated the Berenstain Bears’ 50th birthday (January)

  • Installed Numbers League Superheroes display and Whimsical Art Trail (February–May)

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

  • Collaborated with the Rebel Legion and 501st Legion (Vader’s Fist) to present In Another Galaxy Weekend (April)

  • Provided patch and badge activities for 375 Boy and Girl Scouts (yearlong)

School Program Highlights

  • Child with large blocks
    Woodbury School Student

    Delivered school lessons to more than 14,000 Western New York students, including new offerings on or related to STEM and STEAM

  • Provided professional development experiences to 433 pre- and in-service teachers

  • Educated 57 three- and four-year-olds through the museum’s Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury School

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

  • Hosted more than 200 college students working on curriculum-related assignments

  • Welcomed more than 1,000 area high school students to the museum’s 22nd annual Advanced Placement History Conference and piloted an Advanced Placement Psychology Conference

  • Hosted more than 90 Generation Two students, staff, teachers, and volunteers from the City of Rochester and Fairport school districts for a morning of intergenerational play and conversation

  • Hosted an expeditionary learning project presentation by Genesee Community Charter School students who explored the impact of skate parks on communities across the nation

Community Outreach

  • Provided museum experiences free of charge to 1,400 urban youth from more than two dozen different community organizations through the Summer SUN (Strong Urban Neighborhoods) program

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

  • Provided museum experiences for 1,600 in foster families (in collaboration with 18 agencies in 11 counties) through the Foster Family Admissions program

  • Served hundreds of families with special needs via Early Intervention Play Therapy Access, Pediatric Residency Play Observation, and related programs

  • In association with National Adoption Month, hosted a Children Awaiting Parents display featuring photographs of children eligible for adoption

Additional Highlights

  • Loaned artifacts for display across the nation, including circus-themed board games to the Bard Graduate Center in New York City; civilian defense dolls to the New York Historical Society also in New York City; board games and souvenirs for two exhibitions produced by the SFO Museum at the San Francisco International Airport in California;  science-fiction-themed artifacts to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Stamford, Connecticut; and  space-themed artifacts to the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont

  • Enjoyed being featured in Good Night New York State—a children’s book highlighting landmarks in New York

  • Displayed more than 85 pieces of art from the Sister Cities’ International Art Exchange Project between students from Churchville Chili Middle School and Alytus Piliakalnis Main School in Lithuania during the spring

International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG)

Westwood studios collection
Westwood Studios Collection

At 40,000 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

  • Hundreds of objects—including games, artwork, and costumes—from Westwood Studios co-founder Lou Castle chronicling the history of the ground-breaking video game firm

  • From pioneering game designer Bill Budge, the Apple II computer on which he developed groundbreaking games such as Raster Blaster and Pinball Construction Set

  • The Her Interactive Collection, an assemblage of more than 60 games and extensive archival materials that document the company’s history and offer insights into female experiences and attitudes toward video games

  • Atari design document
    Atari Concept Drawing

    An assemblage of 2,000 console games in their original packaging, including more than 100 Japanese titles, from 1UP, one of the premier video game news and review sites

  • A collection of more than 250 original conceptual drawings and industrial designs for Atari arcade games produced between 1974 and 1989

Additional Highlights

  • Partnered with the Royal Library of Denmark to preserve a record of game play on the now defunct massively multiplayer online game LEGO Universe

  • Hosted, with Rochester Institute of Technology, more than 120 scholars, students, and video game industry personnel from the United States and abroad during the Fourth IEEE Consumer Electronics Society International Games Innovation Conference

  • Loaned design notebooks from The Sims creator Will Wright to the Australian Center for the Moving Image in Melbourne, Australia, for display in its Game Masters exhibit

  • Named a best video game destination by Official Xbox Magazine, one of the nerdiest museums by Conde Nast Traveler, and one of five super cool museums to visit on a first date by Gurl.com

  • Featured in the Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming edited by Mark J. P. Wolf

  • Hosted videographers for Junk Food S.r.l. (Milano, Italy) who photographed and recorded game play on dozens of historic arcade games for their upcoming project “Playing the Revolution,” part of the 8-Bit Generation Italian documentary series

National Toy Hall of Fame

Toy Hall of Fame induction ceremony
2012 National Toy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

The National Toy Hall of Fame recognizes toys that have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period. In 2012, the prestigious hall welcomed two new toy inductees.

2012 Induction

  • Honored dominoes and Star Wars action figures as 2012 inductees (November 15)

  • Generated national news coverage including 676 different local television newscasts attracting a Nielsen audience exceeding 18.1 million, and 383 print references and nearly 1,700 online news articles for a combined readership of 1.1 billion

  • Celebrated National Toy Hall of Fame inductees with special activities at The Strong’s National Museum of Play on November 17 and 18

  • Recognized other toy finalists under consideration for the 2012 induction: Clue, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Lite-Brite, little green army men, Magic 8 Ball, pogo stick, Simon, tea set, and Twister

Additional Highlights

  • Toy Hall of Fame induction ceremony dominos
    2012 National Toy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

    Toy manufacturer K’NEX offered a visit to the National Toy Hall as the prize to a sweepstakes winner (August)

  • New York Magazine featured the cardboard box—a 2006 inductee—as a crossword puzzle answer (October)

  • Jeopardy cited National Toy Hall of Fame as an answer (November)

  • Mysteries at the Museum, a series on The Travel Channel, filmed a segment about the history of Play-Doh for a future broadcast

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

  • A collection of transcripts containing interviews with legendary toy inventors and developers donated by author and filmmaker Tim Walsh

  • Papers detailing the development of Tickle Me Elmo, along with notes, concept art, and supporting documentation for many other game and toy prototypes designed by independent toy and game inventor Ron Dubren

  • Personal papers and research from distinguished play scholar and author Anthony Pellegrini that document the essential role of play in learning and human development

  • A rare copy of Reaching Juvenile Markets: How to Advertise, Sell, and Merchandise through Boys and Girls by E. Evalyn Grumbine that provides a window into the roots of children’s consumerism and its impact on American society

  • A donation of comic books by artist Ken Wheaton that tackle issues of child abuse, literacy, the war on drugs, and patriotism

Additional Highlights

  • Awarded the first two fellowships through The Strong’s Research Fellowships program

  • Hosted researchers from across the nation including Drew Chappell from California State University in Fullerton; independent scholar Kristana Textor of New York City; Joseph Orens from Washington, DC; and J. David Carlson of Azusa Pacific University in California

  • Enhanced presence on WorldCat.org, the world’s largest network of library content and services, providing researchers worldwide with direct access to the Library and Archives’ online catalog

American Journal of Play

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

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