2019 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.


  • Welcomed nearly 600,000 guests, including guests from all 50 states and more than 50 countries, such as France, Nigeria, Colombia, and Singapore   
  • Opened the first two floors of the museum’s 1,000-car parking garage as part of The Strong’s expansion project
  • Launched original game to support Powered by Play campaign and the museum’s ongoing expansion projectPowered by Play game graphic
  • Maintained nearly 17,000 member households
  • Opened Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit, produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (borrowed, February)
  • Opened Wild Kratts: Ocean Adventure! produced by the Minnesota Children’s Museum (borrowed, June)
  • Opened DC Super Heroes: Discover Your Superpowers, produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (borrowed, September)
  • Launched Early Home Video Game History: Making Television Play, Margaret Woodbury Strong and the Making of The Strong National Museum of Play and Making Monopoly: A History of the Origins of America’s Favorite Board Game online exhibits created in partnership with Google Cultural Institute
  • Opened the Liman Collection of International Tabletop Games Display featuring classic board games from the late 19th century
  • Opened a display honoring the history of the Rochester Jeffersons football team
  • Opened a display celebrating the work of game designer Scott Adams
  • Opened a display of Par jigsaw puzzles donated by Daryl and John Lillie
  • Launched new discount program for New York State residents who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Launched the Strong Employment and Life Foundations (SELF) internship program in partnership with Arc of Monroe and Monroe One BOCES
  • Hosted the Women in Games annual event featuring female video game trailblazers, including Kiki Wolfkill, Jacinda Chew, Jennifer Oneal, and Jen Taylor
  • Renovated the museum’s auditorium and renamed it the Paychex Theater in recognition of Paychex, Inc.’s $250,000 gift towards Powered by Play: A Campaign for The Strong
  • Welcomed guests from the American Council of the Blind for guided tours of the museum
  • Hosted more than 3,000 adults for the museum’s Happiest Hour events
  • Featured on Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum in segments about the Edison Talking Doll
  • Posted more than 40 blogs to the museum’s website

Grants of Note

  • National Endowment for the Humanities’ Chairman’s Special Award, $700,000 for exhibits in the museum expansion
  • National Historical Publications and Records Commission, $69,159 to digitize and provide access to the diaries of game designer, Sid Sackson
  • New York State Council on the Arts, $47,000 for general operating support
  • The Louis S. and Molly B. Wolk Foundation, $500,000 for admission area in The Strong's expansion
  • Killian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Foundation, $100,000 for video game preservation labs

National Acclaim

  • Named “Best Local Family-Friendly Attraction” by City Newspaper readers
  • Named a “Top Place to Take Kids in the Rochester Area” by KidsOutandAbout.com
  • Named the gold standard for indoor amusement in Rochester by Democrat and Chronicle readers
  • Named the top spot to visit in New York by XSmall Market Meetings and Group Travel Leader
  • Named one of 21 unique museums where guests can embrace their inner geek by BuzzFeed
  • Named a top 11 museum for kids by Families Go magazine
  • Named one of “Five Fun Educational Museums for Your Family to Visit” by the Houston Chronicle


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 200 products by toy designer Marvin GlassMarvin Glass artifacts
  • A collection of nearly 100 toys, games, and prototypes from designer Ralph Baer
  • A collection of more than 200 vintage GUND products from Spin Master

Video and Other Electronic Game Collections

  • A significant collection from early PC game developers Michael and Muffy Berlyn
  • A rare yellow Computer Space, the first commercial arcade video game
  • A collection of more than 300 video games from industry veteran Rich Vogel
  • A collection of video games and digital files from Polish game company 11 bit studios
  • The first Angry Birds plush toy from Camilla Hed-Wilson of Rovio’s board of directors
  • A collection of MECC education games from designer Wayne Studer
  • A collection of pinball machines from Stern Pinball, including Deadpool and Iron Maiden

Archival Collections Related to Artifacts of Play

  • A collection of papers from sculptor and doll designer Erin Libby, part of the Women in Toys (WIT) collection
  • A collection of papers from jigsaw puzzle historian and collector Anne D. Williams
  • Additional design drawings, photographs, and videos from Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison

Archival Collections Related to the Study of Play

  • Records from the Institute for Play, including Quest to Learn curriculum design packs and game design information
  • Observational data videos and other documentation from play scholar Doris Bergen

Archival Collections Related to Video and Other Electronic Games

  • A collection of game design documentation from Insomniac Games
  • Archival material relating to Women in Games from industry trailblazers Carol Kantor and Jane Jensen
  • A collection of papers and game prototypes of Mark Lesser, programmer and designer of Mattel Electronic Football
  • Donations from pinball veterans Ken Fedesna, Larry DeMar, and Duncan Brown
  • A large compilation of fliers, brochures, manuals, catalogs, and related materials amassed by Steve Kordek
  • A collection of personal papers that includes handwritten coding notes, circuit schematics, source code print outs, and other materials from software professional David Shepperd
  • A collection of professional papers from Mike and Muffy Berlyn, designers of computer adventure games


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 16 interns from 10 colleges, as well as hosted 15 interns through the museum’s SELF program and three Project LIFE interns
  • Delivered school lessons to more than 15,400 Western New York students
  • Provided professional development experiences to more than 700 pre- and in-service teachers
  • Educated 69 preschool and early kindergarten students through the museum’s Reggio Emilia-inspired Woodbury School
  • Hosted a visit from Lella Gandini, the United States Liaison for the Dissemination of the Reggio Emilia Approach

Public Program Highlights

  • Presented more than 40 public programs, including Super Heroes Weekend, Fit Kids Day, and In Another Galaxy Weekend
  • Hosted more than 11,000 guests for ticketed events, including Museum Mondays for Seniors, Video Game Creation Workshop, College Night, and Women in Games: Create!
  • Provided activities for more than 300 Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts
  • Welcomed more than 700 guests through the museum’s Sensory-Friendly Sunday programs
  • Hosted Global Game Jam NEXT event for the first time
  • Launched Teeny Tots Egg Hunt ticketed program for toddlers
  • Hosted Change the Game in partnership with Google Play

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 2019, the prestigious hall welcomed three new toy inductees.Toy Hall of Fame induction ceremony

2019 induction

  • Honored Matchbox Cars, Magic: The Gathering, and coloring book (November 7)
  • Generated national and international media coverage from Today Show, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and New York Times
  • Celebrated National Toy Hall of Fame inductees with special activities at The Strong (November 9 and 10)
  • Recognized other toy finalists under consideration for the 2019 induction: Care Bears, Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Jenga, Masters of the Universe, My Little Pony, Nerf Blaster, Risk, smartphone, and top

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.Video Game Hall of Fame inductees

2019 induction

  • Honored Colossal Cave Adventure, Microsoft Windows Solitaire, Mortal Kombat, and Super Mario Kart (May 2)
  • Generated national and international media coverage, including ABC News, Late Show with Seth Meyers, and USA Today
  • Celebrated World Video Game Hall of Fame inductees with special activities at The Strong (May 4 and 5)
  • Recognized other video game finalists under consideration for the 2019 induction: Candy Crush Saga, Centipede, Dance Dance Revolution, Half-Life, Myst, NBA 2K, Sid Meier’s Civilization, and Super Smash Bros. Melee

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.American Journal of Play Volume 12 Number 1


  • From Play to Play Advocacy: An Interview with Olga S. Jarrett
  • Reflections on Roughhousing and Living Playfully: An Interview with Anthony T. DeBenedet
  • Sesame Street and Learning through Play: An Interview with Rosemarie T. Truglio


  • “Praxis Games: A Design Philosophy for Mobilizing Knowledge through Play” by Steve Wilcox
  • “Play it High, Play it Low: Examining the Reliability and Validity of a New Observation Tool to Measure Children’s Make-Believe Play” by Carrie Germeroth, Elena Bodrova, Crystal Day-Hess, Jane Barker, Julie Sarama, Douglas H. Clements, and Carolyn Layzer
  • “Playing with Words: Dav Pilkey’s Literary Success in Humorous Language” by Evangeline E. Nwokah, Vanessa Hernandez, Erin Miller, and Ariana Garza
  • “Homo Ludens: A Renewed Reading” by Peter McDonald
  • “Children’s Play in the Shadow of War” by Daniel Feldman
  • “Profiles of Playful Men and Playful Women: Personality and Humor-Related Attributes” by Lynn A. Barnett
  • “From Displays and Dioramas to Doll Dramas: Adult World Building and World Playing with Toys” by Katriina Heljakka and J. Tuomas Harviainen
  • “Video Games and English as a Second Language: The Effect of Massive Multiplayer Online Video Games on the Willingness to Communicate and Communicative Anxiety of College Students in Puerto Rico” by Kenneth S. Horowitz
  • “Playing Every Day on Sesame Street: Global Learnings from a Play-Based Pilot Intervention in India, Mexico, and South Africa” by Kim Foulds and Abby Bucuvalas
  • “Making Play Smarter, Stronger, and Kinder: Lessons from Tools of the Mind” by Elena Bodrova and Deborah J. Leong
  • “Play in a Digital World: How Interactive Digital Games Shape the Lives of Children” by Rachel M. Flynn, Rebekah A. Richert, and Ellen Wartella
  • “Reducing Gender Stereotypes in Toys and Play for Smarter, Stronger, and Kinder Kids” by Erica S. Weisgram