The National Museum of Play, formerly Strong National Museum of Play, is part of The Strong in Rochester, New York, United States. 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. 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.
The Strong is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It is one of the largest history museums in the United States and one of the leading museums serving families.
The Strong 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 and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play. Together, these enable a multifaceted array of research, exhibition, and other interpretive and educational activities that serve a diverse audience of adults, families, children, students, teachers, scholars, collectors, and others around the globe.
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. 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. 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.
The museum’s exhibits are immersively themed for video games, storybooks, television shows, education, nature, history, comic books, carousel and train rides, and children’s lifestyles. e-Game Revolution is the first permanent video game exhibit in the US and includes the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The National Toy Hall of Fame is at the museum. Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden features thousands of butterflies, and is the largest indoor butterfly garden in New York. The Berenstain Bears: Down a Sunny Dirt Road is an original, permanent exhibit produced in partnership with the Berenstain family.