Play Stuff Blog

All in a Day’s Work: Preparing for Game Time! at The Strong  

If you’re a member or fan of the National Museum of Play at The Strong, you probably know that the museum will open another major exhibit on the second floor in April 2013. Game Time! will illuminate the exciting history of board games, card games, puzzles, electromechanical coin-operated games, pinball machines, and other forms of home entertainment such as foosball and air hockey. As part of a comprehensive exhibit called America at Play, Game Time! marks the next phase in the museum’s plan to use the second floor to tell the story of play through hands-on experiences and thousands of artifacts.

Creating new exhibitions requires years of work and preparation. After developing the exhibit’s initial concept and a detailed outline, the gallery received a complete makeover, from the lighting grid on the ceiling to the carpet on the floor. The museum’s exhibit design and fabrication team laid out the space, created casework, and crafted interactive stations. As curator of games, I selected artifacts for the exhibit and wrote labels explaining their history and significance. Next, I worked with the exhibit designer, mount maker, and artifact conservator to lay out individual sections of the exhibit. We mocked up each section and then photographed it so that we could recreate our layout in the actual case. With that guidance, the mount maker prepared each artifact for display by crafting a custom support. As you read this, all the elements of the exhibit are starting to come together for final artifact placement and installation of a fiber optic lighting system.

As you can see from the floor plan, a pathway of colored spaces curves through Game Time!, similar to the track players follow in Candy Land. Hands-on activities will include a Bingo game show simulation, a huge air hockey table, the ever-popular foosball, and much, much more! Museum guests will also discover the stories behind historic and popular games. We’re pulling some treasures out of collections, including rare games such as Mansion of Happiness from 1843 and an 1851 copy of the Jolly Game of Goose. But you can also see favorites that you and your friends play and enjoy. I hope you’ll visit Game Time! at The Strong when it opens in April.