Press Release

The Strong Breaks Ground on Phase 2 of Major Expansion

Published April 21, 2021

Wednesday, April 21, 2021
For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365, srhinewald@museumofplay.org

ROCHESTER, NY—The Strong National Museum of Play broke ground today on the second phase of its transformational expansion project—a 90,000 square foot wing that will be the centerpiece of the all-new Neighborhood of Play. Planning for the project began in 2013 when the City of Rochester moved forward with filling in the Inner Loop—an underutilized expressway—creating pockets of developable land. The first phase of the project, started in 2018 and completed in 2020, consisted of a whimsically colorful parking garage. The second phase was delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After a construction delay and operational hurdles related to the pandemic, it’s especially gratifying to break ground on Phase 2 of this project and look again to the future of the museum, our city, and our region,” says Steve Dubnik, president and CEO of The Strong. “We would not be in this position today without the support of our federal, state, and local elected officials, and the support of our donors, members, and community. Now, through this project, we will extend the museum’s international reach, share our play-based mission more widely, and help rebuild Rochester’s tourism economy in the years to come.”

The second phase of The Strong’s expansion, designed by CJS Architects and managed by LeChase Construction Services, includes the new museum wing, an outdoor play exhibit inspired by board games, a gateway building (connecting the parking garage with the expanded museum building), and an outdoor plaza area with playful sculptures and other elements. The new wing will house two massive exhibits dedicated to the ways that video games and technology change how we play called ESL Federal Credit Union Digital Worlds, as well as a new, state-of-the-art welcome atrium and admissions area. Within Digital Worlds will be a new home for the internationally recognized World Video Game Hall of Fame and space to tell the stories of underrepresented groups in the video game industry.

Congressman Joe Morelle says: “The Strong museum is an essential part of Rochester’s vibrant community fabric, offering a unique and interactive play experience for visitors of all ages. This exciting expansion will cement its place as a world-class destination and tourist attraction while strengthening our local economy at a time when it’s needed most. I’m proud to have supported this project and look forward to The Strong’s continued growth and success in the years to come.”

 Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul says, “The Strong museum is a wonderful interactive space for families and visitors to learn about the history of play. I was honored to previously attend The Strong’s unveiling of the Toy Halls of Fame, and I’m proud that New York State continues to support this unique gem that is not only attracting visitors from across the globe to the Finger Lakes, but also serves as the heart of the economic transformation that is underway in downtown Rochester.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello says, “I am grateful to The Strong museum for their continued investment in our community and can’t wait to visit the new museum wing with my own family and friends. This is a transformational project for our community that not only redevelops underutilized land freed up by the removal of the Inner Loop, but will also continue The Strong museum’s long history of making Monroe County and the Finger Lakes region a great place to live, work, play and visit. I also thank ESL Federal Credit Union and the many other generous donors and government officials who helped make this visionary project possible.”

Vincent Felder, Monroe County Legislator for District 22 says, “The expansion of The Strong National Museum of Play will have a lasting impact on the 22nd District. The expansion will create more opportunities for employment, foster tourism, and spur economic activity in the region. I am pleased that they have commited themselves to making the museum accessible to families with limited means, and I am proud that they are located in the 22nd Legislative District.”

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says, “When we began the Inner Loop East project, we could only imagine the change and growth it would bring to our city. Now, we see how a new neighborhood has arisen with The Strong museum at its center.Today’s groundbreaking is proof that Rochester is emerging from the pandemic stronger than ever before. I can’t wait for my family and all of our community to experience the joy and sense of wonder this expansion will bring.”

Mary Lupien, Rochester City Councilmember for the East District says, “I am excited for the East District as well as my own family to enjoy the expanded museum with 90,000 square feet of additional room for play and exhibits as well as expanding outdoors with a play garden. The Strong museum has shown its commitment to accessibility with the reduced entrance fee for low-income families (New York State SNAP recipients) so that all of our residents can experience this world-famous tourist attraction.”

The project is supported by the $60-million Powered by Play: A Campaign for The Strong and has received significant support through New York State’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative, which was key to beginning the project, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services and National Endowment for the Humanities. The project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2023 and draw an additional 400,000 guests to the museum and region by 2026. This is expected to result in an annual economic impact of $130 million. To learn more about the project, visit museumofplay.org/expansion-campaign/expansion-project

About The Strong
The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play.