2016 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.


  • The Strong welcomed more than 551,000 guests on site, including guests from all 50 states and nearly two dozen countries, such as Italy, Belize, Japan, Ireland, and China
  • Greeted more than 17,000 member households
  • Posted more than 60 blogs to CHEGheads, Play Stuff, and Tumblr
  • Opened Pinball Playfields, a permanent exhibit that showcases more than 80 years of pinball history and explores the evolution of pinball playfields (opened February, permanent)
    Pinball Playfields
    Pinball Playfields
  • Hosted more than 1,200 adults for its second Happiest Hour event
  • Launched The Strong Museum Guide, the museum’s first mobile app, which included translated web pages available in German, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, and Ukrainian
  • Opened the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences exhibit to recognize the outstanding achievements within interactive entertainment and showcase recipients of both the Academy’s D.I.C.E (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Awards and its Special Awards (permanent)
  • Opened Rockets, Robots, and Ray Guns, a temporary exhibit that explores how science-fiction books, toys, movies, and video games have captured people’s imaginations and shaped the way they play (temporary, June)
  • Opened The Force at Play, a companion exhibit to Rockets, Robots, and Ray Guns that showcased how the Star Wars movie franchise revolutionized play and playthings (temporary, June)
  • Opened Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice, a borrowed exhibit from the Minnesota Children’s Museum (borrowed, September)
  • Opened American at Play, a permanent exhibit that explores more than 300 years of play and pastimes and marks the final installment in a multi-year transformation of the museum’s second floor (permanent, December)
  • Partnered with Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to collaborate on game preservation projects, exhibits, workshops, and video game conference presentations aimed at enhancing knowledge and understanding of the history and impact of video games and ways to preserve them
  • Featured in My Favorite Toy Box’s first edition of Roc-opoly
  • Created century-old toy display in honor of Wegmans’ 100th year anniversary
  • Featured on Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum, in a segment about the iconic arcade game Pac-Man

Grants of Note

  • Empire State Development, $201,146, 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, $149,994, to support the fabrication and installation of Imagination Destination exhibit
  • Delta Air Lines, $25,000, to support museum programming
  • M&T Bank, $26,100 to support The Strong’s 2016–2017 education programs
  • Monroe County, $60,000 for unrestricted museum support

National Acclaim

  • Named the “number one family travel destination in the nation” by readers of FamilyFun magazine
  • Named the best “Family Friendly Attraction in Rochester” by CITY Newspaper
  • Ranked one of the “8 Best Arcades and Game Museums in the United States” by travel magazine’s Travelage West
  • Named one of the “50 Trips Every Kid Should Take” by MSN News
  • Named one of “10 Father-Daughter Date Ideas around the U.S.” by Parenting magazine
  • Ranked one of “7 Family Fun Spots around the USA that Will Make Holidaying Memorable” by Travel and Tour World, a United Kingdom-based travel website
  • Recognized as one of the five best family museums in the nation by Metro Boston, Metro Philadelphia, and Metro New York


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.

Key Acquisitions

Toy, Doll, Game, and Related Collections

  • A collection of more than 500 licensed products and 60 books donated by the family of legendary puppeteer and television icon Jim Henson that chronical his illustrious career and numerous television and movie productions, such as Sesame Street, Dinosaurs, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Muppet Show
  • An assortment of more than 1,500 construction toys and building sets from collector George Wetzel that includes variations of iconic construction toy brands such as Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, and Crazy Ikes

Video and Other Electronic Game Collections

  • The workstation of home video game inventor Ralph H. Baer
  • A collection of pinball machines from Stern Pinball, including X-Men Limited EditionKiss Pro, and Wrestlemania Pro

Archival Collections Related to Artifacts of Play

  • As assemblage of concept sketches, development drawings, and presentation drawings for Fisher-Price toys, donated by iconic toy designer Claire Marschak
  • An online collection of Margaret Woodbury Strong’s family papers, diaries, scrapbooks, correspondence, news clippings, guest books, photographs, bookplates, slides, 16mm files, and financial records
  • A collection of design and business documentation from Interplay founder Brian Fargo
  • A collection of games and software titles, product development documents, and company records that chronicle the history of pioneering software company Living Books
  • An extensive assemblage of software, internal documents, and press clippings from former employees of the Minnesota Education Computer Consortium (MECC)

Archival Collections Related to the Study of Play

  • A collection of more than 2,800 electronic gaming magazines from archivist and filmmaker Jason Scott

Archival Collections Related to Video and Other Electronic Games

  • An assortment of artifacts and materials donated by the Tetris Company


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

Lella Gandini, Ben Mardell, Debbie McCoy
Lella Gandini, Ben Mardell, Debbie McCoy
  • Welcomed 3 interns from 3 area colleges
  • Delivered school lessons to more than 11,000 Western New York students
  • Provided professional development experiences to nearly 700 pre- and in-service teachers
  • Educated 61 3–5-year-olds through the museum’s Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury School
  • Hosted The Strong’s first education conference titled, “Playful Encounters with the Reggio Emilia Apporach,” featuring keynote speakers, Lella Gandini and Ben Mardell (May)
  • Presented the museum’s first Game Creation workshop, where participants conceptualized, designed, and created original computer games
  • Welcomed more than 900 students from 17 area high schools to the 26th Annual Advanced Placement American History Conference
  • Provided 50 pair (100 tickets) to Hillside Library’s Refugee Family Program and another 20 pair (40 tickets) to Maplewood Library’s Refugee Family Program, which allowed participating families to attend a Pop-Ups concert at the museum

Public Program Highlights

  • Presented more than 100 public programs
  • Presented Superheroes Weekend, including meet-and-greets with Marvel costumed characters Iron Man and Spider-Man, early comic book art, games, and more (April)
  • Sci-fi summer-themed weekends inspired by the museum’s Rockets, Robots, and Ray Guns exhibit
  • Celebrated Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th Anniversary that included a meet and greet with Sonic (September)
  • Hosted Fit Kids Day (January), which attracted more than 4,000 guests to the museum
  • Provided patch and badge activities for more than 380 Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts (yearlong)

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 2016, the prestigious hall welcomed three new toy inductees.

2016 induction

  • Honored the swing, Dungeons & Dragons, and Fisher-Price Little People as 2016 inductees (November 10)
  • Generated national and international media coverage from Fox and Friends, Live with Kelly and Michael, Fox Business News, and MSNBC
  • Celebrated National Toy Hall of Fame inductees with special activities at The Strong’s National Museum of Play (November 12 and 13)
  • Recognized other toy finalists under consideration for the 2016 induction: Care Bears, Clue, coloring books, Nerf, pinball, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Transformers, and Uno

World Video Game Hall of Fame

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.

World Video Game Hall of Fame induction ceremony
2016 World Video Game Hall of Fame

2016 induction

  • Honored Grand Theft Auto III, The Legend of Zelda, The Oregon Trail, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Space Invaders into the second class of video games
  • Generated national and international media cover from ABC News, CBS News, Forbes magazine, TIME magazine, BBC, CBC, and Yahoo
  • Celebrated World Video Game Hall of Fame inductees with a special ceremony at The Strong (May 5)

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.


  • “Playing with Ideas: An Interview with Lou Marinoff”
  • “Play, Toys, Learning, and Understanding: An Interview with Doris Bergen”


American Journal of Play coverAmerican Journal of Play Volume 9, Number 1
  • “Sandwork” by Jay Mechling
  • “Mental Recreation in Wonderland” by Kate Pendlebury
  • “Free Choice or Adaptable Choice: Self-Determination Theory and Play” by Pete King and Justine Howard
  • “Play and Productivity: Enhancing the Creative Climate at Workplace Meetings with Play Cues” by Samuel E. West, Eva Hoff, and Ingegerd Carlsson
  • “Reason and Rationalization: A Theory of Modern Play” by Thomas S. Henricks
  • “Active Play: Exploring the Influences on Children’s School Playground Activities” by Brendon Hyndman, Amanda Benson, and Amanda Telford
  • “Exquisite Moments: Achieving Optimal Flow in Three Activity-Based Groups Regardless of Early-Childhood Adversity” by Paula Thomson and S. Victoria Jaque
  • “Visiting the Muses: Creativity, Coping, and PTSD in Talented Dancers and Athletes” by Paula Thomson and S. Victoria Jaque
  • “Play Ball?: Reflections on My Father’s Youth Baseball Experiences and Why They Matter” by Jay C. Kimiecik
  • “Microgravity Playscapes: Play in Long-Term Space Missions” by Marianthi Liapi and Edith Ackermann
  • “We Don’t Allow Children to Climb Trees”: How a Focus on Safety Affects Norwegian Children’s Play in Early-Childhood Education and Care Settings” by Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter and Ole Johan Sando
  • “Blocks, Bricks, and Planks: Relationships between Affordance and Visuo-Spatial Constructive Play Objects” by Daniel Ness and Stephen J. Farenga
  • “Inserting Child-Initiated Play into an American Urban School District after a Decade of Scripted Curricula: Complexities and Progress” by Julie Nicholson, Anne Bauer and Ristyn Woolley