The Strong National Museum of Play celebrated its 40th anniversary in October amidst an extensive 65-million-dollar expansion project.
As one of the largest history museums in the United States, the organization is renowned for its innovative approach to attracting the attention of new and frequent visitors alike. With robust programming that includes the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the National Archives of Game Show History, along with its in-person and online exhibits, the museum continues to be a top attraction within its own community while also drawing visitors from around the world.
Toy Tales spoke with museum president and CEO, Steve Dubnik, to learn how the collections-based educational institution continues to attract visitors and maintain its collections as the expansion project unfolds. Dubnik shared, “Throughout the expansion process, it has been important for us to remain focused on our mission—to explore the cultural importance of play. Even with the bigger project happening around us, we’ve continued to grow and share new collections, offer new programming and short-term exhibits, and even add new initiatives, such as the National Archives of Game Show History. All of these have given our existing guests plenty of reasons to return—and new guests even more reason to make the trip!”
With the first phase of the expansion undertaken in 2018 and project completion expected in 2023, Dubnik reflects on the evolving role of the non-profit with the community. He explained, “The Strong has long been a cornerstone of the Rochester community, and it’s been increasingly important for us over the years to make sure that we’re accessible to everyone in our backyard. Now, with the expansion, the museum will be able to continue to serve our community but also grow our visitation—particularly with guests from outside of New York—pushing annual attendance close to one million in the coming years.”
Dubnik continued, “The expansion will be the anchor of a larger Neighborhood of Play, and the space will offer a new welcome atrium, the massive ESL Federal Credit Union Digital Worlds exhibit, and other guest amenities, including new food and shop options. The entire space will be very forward-thinking and examine the role of technology and electronic games in play. Of course, there will be plenty of opportunity to play, too! It’ll be unlike anything else in the world of museums.”
Next up for The Strong National Museum of Play is its National Toy Hall of Fame inductions on Thursday, November 10. Learn more about the toys and games in consideration.