2015 Annual Report Highlights

The Strong

The Strong is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play and 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 & Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play.

Build, Drive, Go exhibit
Build, Drive, Go


  • The Strong welcomed more than 516,000 guests on site, including guests from all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Europe, Southern and Central America, Africa, Asia, and Australia

  • Greeted nearly 16,000 member households

  • Posted more than 55 blogs to CHEGheads, Play Stuff, re:Play, and Play in Mind

  • Featured in the American Association for State and Local History’s Case Studies in Cultural Entrepreneurship: How to Create Relevant and Sustainable Institutions

  • Created Build, Drive, Go!, a permanent exhibit that showcases a central timeline of driving and building toys through four eras—19th century, early-20th century, mid-20th century, and contemporary (opened December, permanent)

    Toy Halls of Fame exhibit
    Toy Halls of Fame
  • Opened Toy Halls of Fame, a permanent exhibit produced by The Strong in cooperation with Toy Industry Association (TIA) that explores American cultural history through beloved toys and their creators (opened September, permanent)

  • Ranked number 1 family museum in the United States and the nation’s number 4 family-favorite vacation destination by Family Fun magazine

Grants of Note

  • Empire State Development, $151,450, to support New York State tourism marketing initiatives

  • New York State Council on the Arts, $56,000, to support renewed grant commitments

  • Institute of Museum and Library Services, $149,993, to support the fabrication and installation of America at Play overview zone

  • Delta Air Lines, $25,000, to support museum programming

  • M&T Bank, $25,000, to support The Strong’s 2015–2016 education programs

  • Museum Association of New York, $1,000, to support travel

National Acclaim

  • Named one of 10 best museums in the United States by USA Today

  • Included by Rockland Parent in a list of 95 things that families should do this summer

  • Named one of 10 top best family attractions for Canadians by Ignition Luxury & Performance Magazine

  • Named one of eight American Children’s Museum to plan your vacation around

  • Included by Chicago Tribune in a list of museums for “the kids in all of us”


The Strong owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, board games, video games, other electronic games, books, documents, and other historical materials related to play. This unprecedented assemblage offers a unique interpretive and educational window into the critical role of play in human physical, social, and intellectual development and the ways in which play reflects cultural history.

GUND artifacts
GUND Artifacts

Key Acquisitions

Toy, Doll, Game, and Related Collections

  • An assemblage of nearly every toy made in the first half of the 20th century by the Toy Tinkers Company from collector Ann Heuer Lewis

  • Nearly 200 toy Greyhound bus models that span the 1930s to present day from collector Harvey Simmons

  • A collection of more than 200 GUND plush figures and soft toys dating from the 1920s through the 1970s

Video and Other Electronic Game Collections

  • An assemblage of Atari 2600 games and related materials excavated from a landfill in Alamogordo, Mexico

  • A collection of more than 1,500 games and related merchandise that chronicle Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.’s longstanding success at nurturing video game franchises from 1992 to 2015

  • An assortment of hundreds of video games, home game consoles, handheld game consoles, peripherals, accessories, and other items that chronicle the history of Nintendo of America

Archival Collections Related to Artifacts of Play

  • More than 300 international reference books, dollhouses, toy manufacturer trade catalogs, and personal papers of Flora Gill Jacobs, international authority on dollhouses and miniatures
    Julia Novakovic, Jeremy Saucier
    Julia Novakovic (left) and Jeremy Saucier (right) examine mechanical drawings from Williams Manufacturing

Archival Collections Related to the Study of Play

  • A collection of correspondence, photographs, journal articles, and textbooks from nationally recognized Disneyana authority Joel Cohen

  • A collection of corporate records, photographs toy patterns, advertising materials, trade catalogs, artwork, and scrapbooks from GUND, Inc.

Archival Collections Related to Video and Other Electronic Games

  • A collection of more than 2,000 Atari drawings, design plans, mock-ups, proofs, drafts of manual scripts, notes, and unused packaging from Cort and Barbara Allen

  • A collection of documents, game maps, game pitches, game codes, art, photographs, slides, and oral histories from past employees of Sierra On-Line from games historian Laine Nooney

  • A collection of more than 200 pinball playfield design sketches, mechanical insert drawings, and cabinet artwork from Williams Manufacturing, Inc.


At The Strong, students and educators alike have fun while learning. All educational experiences provided by the museum are informed by Reggio Emilia, a playful, innovative approach to teaching and learning that emphasizes collaborative exploration and inquiry and the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Education and Outreach Highlights

  • Welcomed 7 interns from 7 colleges

  • Delivered school lessons to nearly 10,996 Western New York students

  • Provided professional development experiences to more than 688 pre- and in-service teachers

  • Educated 61 3- and 4-year-olds through the museum’s Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury Preschool

  • Hosted more than 125 college students working on curriculum-related assignments, as well as 1,793 College BOGO admissions

  • Welcomed nearly 900 area high school students to the museum’s 25th annual Advanced Placement History Conference

  • Hosted 175 Generation Two staff, teachers, and volunteers for a morning of play and conversation

    The Handbook of the Study of Play cover
    The Handbook of the Study of Play
  • Published The Handbook of the Study of Play, a co-published, co-edited anthology, where diverse thinkers across academic disciplines explore the vital role of play in human development

  • Announced Frances M. Williams Research Fellowships to support scholarly research on the study of puzzles, puzzle play, and related topics across The Strong’s collections

  • Awarded 10 fellowships through The Strong’s Research Fellowships programs

  • Raised more than $226,890 to support The Strong’s education and outreach programs at the Play Ball fundraising gala

  • 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 more than 1,750 foster families (collaborated 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

Public Program Highlights

  • Presented more than 100 public programs
    2015 Winter Calendar
    2015 Spring Calendar
    2015 Summer Calendar
    2015 Fall Calendar

  • Presented Superheroes Weekend, which included meet-and-greets with Marvel superheroes Iron Man and Spiderman, early comic book art, games, and more (April)

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

  • Provided patch and badge activities for more than 600 Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts (yearlong)

National Toy Hall of Fame

Toy Hall of Fame induction ceremony
2015 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 2015, the prestigious hall welcomed three new toy inductees.

2015 Induction

  • Honored puppets, Twister, and Super as 2015 inductees (November 5)

  • Generated national and international media coverage from the Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, Headline News, and the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

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

  • Recognized other toy finalists under consideration for the 2014 induction: American Girl dolls, Fisher-Price Little People, Hess Toy Trucks, My Little Pony, Operation Skill Game, paper airplane, pots and pans, Slip’N Slide, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

World Video Game Hall of Fame

World Video Game Hall of Fame induction ceremony
2015 World Video Game Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

The World Video Game Hall of Fame recognizes individual electronic games of all types that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general.

2015 Induction

  • Honored Pong, Pac-Man, Tetris, Super Mario Bros., DOOM, and World of Warcraft into the first class of video games

  • Generated national and international media cover from ABC Online, CNET, Good Morning America News, USA Today, BBC, CBC, and Wired UK

  • Celebrated World Video Game Hall of Fame inductees with special ceremony at The Strong (June 4)

American Journal of Play

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 www.journalofplay.org.



American Journal of Play cover
American Journal of Play Volume 7, Number 3