Access to Collections

The Strong owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, board games, video games, other electronic games, 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.

The Strong’s Brian Sutton-Smith Library & Archives of Play is the only library and archives devoted solely to collecting and preserving materials that illustrate and document the role of play in human physical, social, and intellectual development and the ways in which play illuminates cultural history. The 220,000-volume research library houses a full spectrum of primary and secondary sources, including scholarly works, professional journals, other periodicals, trade catalogs, children’s books, comic books, manuscripts, personal papers, business records, and more.

Online Access to Collections

Thousands of artifacts from The Strong’s collections are on view in museum exhibits and tens of thousands of objects are accessible through the museum’s Google Arts & Culture page. Also online are the library and archival catalogs of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, which provides a window in The Strong’s vast collection of books and trade publications.

On-Site Access to CollectionsBeth Lathrop and library interns

On-site access to the full museum collection is available to scholars, students, collectors, and other researchers by appointment. Appointments may be made via an online form, by phone at 585-410-6349, or by sending an email to library@museumofplay.org. Please provide a topic of research, indicate the materials desired, and any special needs. The Strong distinguishes between library materials, archival collections, and museum objects. Library materials include published materials such as books, journals, magazines, zines, trade catalogs, and marketing kits. Archival collections contain unpublished materials such as manuscripts, correspondence, design notes and drawings, focus group and other research data. Dolls, toys, games, puzzles, video games, pinball and arcade games, and other physical objects are considered museum objects.

Frequently Accessed Policies, Guides, and Forms:

Research Fellowships

To promote and advance play scholarship, The Strong invites academic professionals, independent scholars, museum scholars, and advanced graduate students at the Masters or PhD level to apply for research fellowships. Fellowships provide financial support for scholarly play research conducted on site at The Strong in Rochester, New York, for periods of study ranging from one to four weeks.