2017 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.


  • Hired Steve Dubnik, entrepreneur and 16-year veteran of its Board of Trustees, as its new president and CEO
    Steve Dubnik, president and CEO
    Steve Dubnik, President and CEO
  • Welcomed more than 557,000 guests on site, including guests from all 50 states and more than 40 countries, including Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, South Korea, and Uruguay
  • Greeted more than 17,000 visitors from member households
  • Launched the America at Play mobile tour, a self-guided tour available through The Strong Museum Guide mobile app
  • Opened Hands-On Harley-Davidson, a borrowed exhibit from Betty Brinn Children’s Museum (borrowed, January)
  • Opened Raceway Arcade, a temporary exhibit that traced the history of electronic driving games (temporary, February)
  • Opened Have a Ball, a temporary exhibit that explored the importance of the ball as a universal, social, cultural, and human experience (temporary, June)
  • Opened Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer, a borrowed exhibit from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (borrowed, September)
  • Opened Out of the Vault, a temporary exhibit that explored the museum’s diverse toy, doll, board game, and video game holdings (temporary, November)
  • Hosted nearly 3,000 adults for the museum’s Happiest Hour events
  • Opened Playing with Politics and Pinball in America, online exhibits created in partnership with Google Cultural Institute
  • Hosted the New York State Game Dev Challenge inaugural award ceremony
  • Hosted the first of three statewide Erie Canal Bicentennial Forums
  • Launched the Women in Games initiative to document and celebrate the crucial contributions of women to the development of electronic games
  • Hosted nearly 100 video game scholars for the Replaying Japan Conference in partnership with Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Alberta, and Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan
  • Published Play for Life: Play Theory and Play as Emotional Survival, an edited compilation that contains the final book-length manuscript of Brian Sutton-Smith, preeminent play scholar
  • Featured on Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum in segments about the Ouija board and the invention of bubble wrap
  • Posted more than 120 blogs to CHEGheads, Play Stuff, and Tumblr

Grants of Note

  • New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, $47,000 for general operating support
  • M&T Charitable Foundation, $26,100 to support The Strong’s 2017–2018 education programs
  • Delta Air Lines, $25,000 to support museum programming
  • Toy Association and Foundation, $25,000 to support the National Toy Hall of Fame and Toy Industry Hall of Fame

National Acclaim

  • Named one of the “top museums for families in the nation” and the “top museum in the northeast” by readers of USA Today
  • Named the “top place to take kids in the Rochester area” by readers of KidsOutandAbout.com
  • Named a finalist for the “2017 edX Prize for Exceptional Contribution in Online Teaching and Learning” for its “Video Game Design History” online course, developed by The Strong and Rochester Institute of Technology staff
  • Named the “number one cultural attraction” by readers of the Rochester Business Journal and Daily Record
  • Named “best family-friendly attraction” by readers of City Newspaper
  • Named “Rochester’s Choice for best museum” by readers of the Democrat and Chronicle
  • Named an honorable mention in the Rochester Regional Library Council Library of the Year contest


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

Toy soldiers
Miniature Soldier Collection


  • A collection of nearly 6,000 miniature soldiers 
  • A collection of papers, drawings, catalogs, prototypes, and toys from Garth Parker, a toy designer
  • A collection of toys, games, videos, clothing, and materials related to popular animated characters from Masters of the Universe and Jem and the Holograms from Christy Marx
  • A collection of My Little Pony original illustrations from Ruth Bush, a designer for My Little Pony product packaging
  • A collection of art toys that illustrate a broad range of creative characters and toy variants
  • A collection of more than 4,600 strategy and role-playing games and 8,000 related library titles from Darwin Bromley, the co-founder of Chicago’s Mayfair Games
  • An assortment of materials chronicling the career in educational games of Lorri Hopping, a game designer, publisher, and author of children’s books

Video and Other Electronic Game Collections

  • A Magnavox Mini Theater and Odyssey promotional film, the first video game merchandising display unit
  • A collection of pinball machines from Stern Pinball, including Spider-Man Vault and Ghostbusters Premium
  • A collection of items related to Halo from Microsoft, including action figures, construction sets, and books
  • An extensive collection of Skylanders papers, prototypes, and artifacts from Toys for Bob, a subsidiary of Activision

Archival Collections Related to Artifacts of Play

  • A collection of design concepts, illustrations, style guides, product tear sheets, catalog pages, notes, publicity, and other information relating to licensed products and original concepts created by Bonnie Erickson, the designer credited for creating iconic characters including Miss Piggy and the major league baseball mascot Phillie Phanatic
  • Collections of design documentation, photographs, narratives, ephemera, and more from members of the Women in Toys (WIT) Emeritus Program, including Maureen and Laureen Trotto, staff members of design studio Thin Air, and Carol Spencer, fashion designer for Barbie toys 

Archival Collections Related to the Study of Play

  • A collection of professional papers on play and human behavior from Stuart Brown, psychiatrist and play scholar
  • A collection of materials relating to the Reggio Emilia educational curriculum from Lella Gandini, the United States Liaison for the Reggio Emilia Program

Archival Collections Related to Video and Other Electronic Games

  • A collection of console games, source code, and design documents from Carol Shaw, the first widely recognized female game designer
  • A collection of papers chronicling the early history of Nutting Associates, the first manufacturer of coin-operated video games
  • A collection of early commercial computer games, printed source code, promotional materials, photographs, magazines, comic books, and other documentation related to computer games created by Scott Adams, commercial computer game pioneer and co-founder of Adventure International
  • A collection of books, archival materials, and fanzines from Chris Kohler, former games editor at Wired magazine


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 11 interns from 9 colleges
  • Delivered school lessons to more than 15,000 Western New York students
  • Provided professional development experiences to more than 500 pre- and in-service teachers
  • Educated 76 preschool and early kindergarten students through the museum’s Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury School
  • Hosted The Strong’s second education conference, “Playful Learning in the Classroom,” featuring keynote speakers Anna Rainville and Steven Levy (May)
  • Presented the second Video Game Creation workshop, where participants conceptualized, designed, and created original computer games
  • Welcomed more than 600 students from 13 area high schools to the 27th Annual Advanced Placement American History Conference
  • Created the G. Rollie Adams Research Fellowship to advance play scholarship
  • Announced the G. Rollie Adams Tuition Assistance Fund to provide financial support to families whose children might not otherwise be able to attend The Strong’s Woodbury School

Public Program Highlights

  • Presented more than 30 public programs, including Superheroes Weekend, Fit Kids Day, and In Another Galaxy
  • Presented New York State Summer of Fun weekends inspired by the diverse regions in New York State and in cooperation with I Love NY
  • Hosted more than 1,500 guests for ticketed events, including Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures Mobile Park, Elvis All Shook Up, Growing Up Harley-Davidson, The Pop Ups, and Squirrel Stole My Underpants
  • Launched Museum Mondays for Seniors, a discounted program for adults age 55 and older
  • Provided patch and badge activities for more than 500 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 2017, the prestigious hall welcomed three new toy inductees.

Toy Hall of Fame indcution ceremony
2017 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductees

2017 induction

  • Honored the paper airplane, Wiffle Ball, and Clue (November 9)
  • Generated national and international media coverage from Chicago Tribune, NBC News, USA Today, and Washington Post
  • Celebrated National Toy Hall of Fame inductees with special activities at The Strong’s National Museum of Play (November 11 and 12)
  • Recognized other toy finalists under consideration for the 2017 induction: Magic 8 Ball, Matchbox Cars, My Little Pony, PEZ Candy Dispenser, play food, Risk, sand, 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.

2017 induction

World video game hall of fame inductees
2017 World Video game Hall of Fame Inductees
  • Honored Donkey Kong, Halo: Combat Evolved, Pokémon Red and Green, and Street Fighter II (May 5)
  • Generated national and international media coverage, including ABC News, CBS News, and USA Today
  • Celebrated World Video Game Hall of Fame inductees with special activities at The Strong (May 6 and 7)
  • Recognized other video game finalists under consideration for the 2017 induction: Final Fantasy VII, Microsoft Windows Solitaire, Mortal Kombat, Myst, Portal, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, and Wii Sports

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 journalofplay.org.


  • “Playing on the Right Side of the Brain: An Interview with Allan N. Schore”
  • “Play in Ancient Greece: An Interview with Simon Goldhill”
  • “Play in Ancient Rome: An Interview with Garrett Fagan”
  • “Collecting, Preserving, and Interpreting the History of Electronic Games: An Interview with Jon-Paul C. Dyson”


American Journal of Play cover
American Journal of Play
Volume 9, Number 2
  • “Ethology, Interpersonal Neurobiology, and Play: Insights into the Evolutionary Origin of the Arts” by Ellen Dissanayake
  • “I am an Avatar of Myself: Fantasy, Trauma, and Self-Deception” by Terry Marks-Tarlow
  • “Vygotsky Meets Neuroscience: The Cerebellum and the Rise of Culture through Play” by Larry Vandervert
  • “Listening beneath the Words: Parallel Processes in Music and Psychotherapy” by Yakov Shapiro, Terry Marks-Tarlow, and Joseph Fridman
  • “Sexual Fantasy and Adult Attunement: Differentiating Preying from Playing” by Alexandra Katehakis
  • “A Gag at the Bottom of a Bowl?: Perceptions of Playfulness in Archaic and Classical Greece” by Thomas Banchich
  • “Archaeology and Developmental Psychology: A Brief Survey of Ancient Athenian Toys” by Maria Sommer and Dion Sommer
  • “Play in and around the Ancient Novel” by Stephen E. Kidd
  • “Riddle Hero: Play and Poetry in the Exeter Book Riddles” by Andrew Higl
  • “New…Now?: Or Why a Design History of Coin-op Video Game Machines” by Raiford Guins
  • “Ronnie, Millie, Lila—Women’s History for Games: A Manifesto and a Way Forward” by Carly Kocurek
  • “Let’s Begin Again: Sierra On-Line and the Origins of the Graphical Adventure Game” by Laine Nooney
  • “Teaching Us to Fear: The Violent Video Game Moral Panic and the Politics of Game Research” by Patrick M. Markey and Christopher J. Ferguson