Have you ever looked back over your childhood toys and been completely confused why everyone keeps calling them “Vintage”? Well, I guess we all are suddenly a lot older then we thought, because all our old toys are now going into a museum.
There is a museum in Rochester, New York that is called The Strong Museum. It is also known at the “National Museum of Play” and is probably every kids’ dream to go there.
Inside this epic and sprawling museum, you can find over 10,000 board games, hundreds of arcade games, thousands of dolls and action figures as well as basically any toy from your childhood you can remember.
The museum is a highly interactive and is responsible for the collection of all the historical toys. The building houses a bunch of different organizations inside, including “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.”
They all work together to create interactive and educational exhibits based around play. The collections are actually insane. They categorize everything into sections so that one of the specialized curators can take care of the things.
Can you imagine having one of these jobs? These 4 people get to play for a living! Check out their job descriptions…
There are four curators who each focus on different areas:
Nicolas Ricketts – Curator of Board Games
He manages the 10,000 board games that span over a century. They have games from as far back as 1843, but also make sure to collect what they are sure will become classics in the future. They also have a collection of 2,100 card games, including games you have absolutely played countless times like Uno!
Michelle Parnett Dwyer – Curator of Dolls
They have more than 15,000 dolls in their collection, from the 18th century to present day. They have many different individual collections within this category, including Barbies, Paper Dolls, and softer non-Barbie dolls. They organize them into time periods so you can better find which dolls you remember from your childhood.
Martin Reinhardt – Head of Pinball & Arcade Game Collections
With over 250 arcade machines and 100 Pinball machines there is a lot to monitor. Reinhardt said that while these machines were all made to last only about 5 years in a commercial environment, they work to keep them all functioning year after year.
Chris Bench – Chief Curator
Bench is responsible for the collections of the toys that fall into the general categories. Yo-yos, action figures, toy cars, basically all the other things that don’t fit into one of the other categories. Bench says that “Play is really important, it’s an integral part to who we are as human beings. Only by understanding how play has stayed the same, and more importantly changed over the years can we understand how we’ve developed as people and how we’ve played over the centuries.”
While it’s weird to see all of our childhood toys in a museum, it’s nice that there is a place that values just how important play is! You can get a little tour of the building and collection in this short video.