The National Museum of Play

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The museum entrance in 2013

The National Museum of Play, formerly Strong National Museum of Play, is part of The Strong in Rochester, New York, USA. Established in 1969 and based initially on the personal collection of Rochester, NY native Margaret Woodbury Strong, the museum opened to the public in 1982. Since then it has refined and increased its collections (hundreds of thousands of items), and expanded twice, in 1997 and 2006.[1][2] The museum is now one of five Play Partners of The Strong, which is also home to the National Toy Hall of Fame, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, and the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, and produces the American Journal of Play.


Strong Museum 1.jpg

Known originally as the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum and later simply as the Strong Museum, it became the Strong National Museum of Play in 2006, after completing renovations and an expansion that nearly doubled its size to 282,000 square feet (26,200 m2).[3] The National Museum of Play is the only collections-based museum anywhere devoted solely to the study of play, and although it is a history museum, it has the interactive characteristics of a children’s museum making it the second largest museum of that type in the United States.[4][5][6][7] The museum includes exhibits that interpret the key elements of play, as well as allow guests to explore the worlds of Sesame Street, the Berenstain Bears, Reading Adventureland, and the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden.[8][9][10][11]


Current exhibits[edit]

  • eGameRevolution is the first permanent video game exhibit in the U.S.
  • Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street? fosters learning via characters from the television series.
  • Wegmans Super Kids Market is a simulated Wegmans supermarket. Renovated in June 2013, it now features a Market Cafe similar to the Wegmans in Pittsford, NY.
  • Kid to Kid is an exhibit about communication.
  • One History Place allows children to experience life as it was a century or more ago.
  • TimeLab shows cultural exhibits of United States History.
  • American Comic Book Heroes: The Battle of Good Vs. Evil explores superhero play.
  • National Toy Hall of Fame
  • Reading Adventureland is the focal point of the new expansion, featuring five storybook-themed play areas.
  • Field of Play sparks children's imaginations in a variety of ways.
  • Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden (extra admission required), with thousands of butterflies, is the largest indoor butterfly garden in New York.
  • Rainbow Reef is a 1700-gallon coral reef tank.
  • The Berenstain Bears: Down a Sunny Dirt Road opened April 26, 2008. An original, permanent exhibit produced in partnership with the Berenstain family.
  • Game Time! explores three centuries of American games and puzzles in an interactive setting.

Former exhibits[edit]

  • Rochester Business Hall of Fame honors men and women who made Rochester into a prosperous city. Now located at the Rochester Museum and Science Center.
  • Making Things Happen was about technology.
  • Lady Liberty was an exhibit concerning the Statue of Liberty.
  • Art of the Garden was a collection of Margaret Woodbury Strong's garden paintings, accompanied by photographs of Ms. Woodbury Strong herself in her garden in nearby Pittsford, New York.


Each costs one dollar per ride.


  • The Grada Hopeman Gelser Library is located inside the museum and is a branch of the Monroe County Public Library system focusing on children's books and books about the museum's exhibition topics.


The expansion adds a food court to the museum, with Pizza Hut Express, Taco Bell Express, and Subway joining the existing "Louie's Sweet Shoppe" ice cream parlor. The museum also houses local chain restaurant Bill Gray's inside an old-fashioned trailer-style diner once known as the Skyliner Diner; the diner building is actually inside the lobby, next to the carousel.

There are now two gift shops, with the one nearest the Butterfly Garden focusing on butterfly-related merchandise.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adams, Rollie G. “Ready, Set, Go: Finally a Museum of Play.” History News 61, no. 3. (2006): 7-11
  2. ^ Bensch, Christopher. “From Decorative Arts to the World of Play—Strong Museum Evolves.” Newsletter of the Decorative Arts Society, Inc. 15, no. 3. (2007)
  3. ^ Tangorra Matelic, Candace. “Understanding Change and Transformations in History Organizations.” History News 63, no. 2 (2008): 7-13
  4. ^ Alexander, Edward P. and Mary, Museums in Motion: An Introduction to the History and Functions of Museums, 2nd ed. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2008.
  5. ^ Kotler, Neil G. Museum Marketing and Strategy: Designing Missions, Building Audiences, Generating Revenue and Resources. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2008.
  6. ^ Brown, Stuart. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. New York: Penguin Group, 2009.
  7. ^ Hoffman, Joan and Sara Boettrich. “Setting the Stage for Free Play: Museum Environments That Inspire Creativity.” Hand-to-Hand 22, no. 4. (2008): 3-5
  8. ^ Eberle, Scott. G. “How a Museum Discovered the Transforming Power of Play.” Journal of Museum Education 33, no. 3 (2008): 265-272
  9. ^ Bitter, Ann. “Challenging Transitions: Planning for Change.” Hand-to-Hand 17, no. 2 (2003): 2-8
  10. ^ Skramstad, Harold and Susan. A Handbook for Museum Trustees. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums, 2003.
  11. ^ Weil, Stephen E. Making Museums Matter. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°09′09″N 77°36′06″W / 43.1526°N 77.601543°W / 43.1526; -77.601543