The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY has to be the greatest museum in the world. It is truly a national treasure.
On a recent trip to the far east reaches of North America (where they have time zones I have never heard of before) I stopped in Rochester to visit the Museum of Play. I had met with some of their people in the past, and even contributed some of our products to a recent display, but I never had the pleasure of actually seeing the place.
The museum takes your breath away from the moment you enter past the actual working Merry-Go-Round and the authentic, fully functioning, old-time, shiny aluminum diner. You will continue to be amazed as you pass from gallery to gallery, past exhibits celebrating play of all kinds and toys of every description. There is far too much to see in a single afternoon. I would need at least a week to soak it all in.
While the museum has almost every toy ever made and collects every new toy that comes to market every year, year after year, it is no mere toy museum. It is the documentation, display, description, the living and breathing celebration of play – from dress up, to sticks, stones, and cardboard boxes. It also publishes The American Journal of Play, an academic journal on play, its meaning, and importance – possibly the only such publication of its kind.
Now, I may be biased, but my instinctive response, once I stopped hyperventilating, was that this is the greatest museum I have ever seen – perhaps the greatest museum on Earth. It is not just a collection, or a display. It is an attempt to delve into and present an explanation of all the dimensions of play so that we can begin to understand what play is in the human experience and in the context of culture and humanity.
Go there. See it. You won’t be disappointed.