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 Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play.
Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden
A visit to The Strong museum is not complete without a stop at Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden, the only year-round indoor butterfly garden in upstate New York. Enter a lush rain-forest environment and walk among approximately 1,000 brilliantly colored, free-flying tropical and native butterflies that flutter about (and may even land on you!).
Wegmans Super Kids Market
At The Strong’s Wegmans Super Kids Market exhibit, kids run the store! Cruise the aisles and fill a grocery cart with colorful products that look amazingly real. Visit the toddler organic farm, Market Café, and a variety of other highly interactive store environments that offer dramatic role-playing opportunities and encourage healthy eating habits.
- Explore the Market Café replete with prepared meals, a sushi bar, and a coffee bar—just like the real grown-up Wegmans!
- Shop for organic and gluten-free products at Nature’s Marketplace.
- Discover the expanded toddler area, where little ones can pick, count, sort, and weigh organic veggies; gather eggs; crawl through a raised hoop house; and sit under the apple tree.
- Cruise the aisles with child-sized shopping carts and scan bar-coded products at working check-out counters.
- Work in deli, meat, seafood, and bakery departments and make brick-oven pizzas.
- Produce a commercial or cooking show at the WKID-TV station. Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?
Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?
Step into the world's most famous neighborhood at The Strong museum. Travel through four adventurous decades of the revolutionary Sesame Street children's television series. Dozens of interactive components invite children to explore concepts about letters, words, numbers, and diversity.
- Say hello to Big Bird and sit on the famous 123 Sesame Street stoop.
- Visit with Elmo, Dorothy, and Mr. Noodle in the crayon-colored Elmo’s World and make your television debut with The Muppets.
- Play hopscotch, chess, and checkers.
- Pretend to drive around in a big yellow taxi cab with Elmo and Cookie Monster in the Sesame Street playground.
- Operate and serve your friends at A’ la Carte Dining, the famous food delivery truck.
- Enjoy favorite Sesame Street episodes with Burt and Ernie in Circle in the Square Cinema.
- Make a stop at Bird Travel and go on an adventure with Planet Sesame, where you can watch episodes of Sesame Street from all over the world.
- Use the payphone to call your favorite character or climb into Big Bird’s nest for a rest.
American Comic Book Heroes: The Battle of Good vs. Evil
Grab a cape and leap into the world of superheroes at the American Comic Book Heroes: The Battle of Good vs. Evil exhibit at The Strong museum. Explore seven decades of amazing characters who have struggled mightily against evil in the comic book cosmos while inspiring kids’ imaginations and play.
Go hands-on at Super Powers School where everyone becomes a superhero.
- Super Strength: Step into the laboratory and absorb “gamma rays” in order to pick up a massively heavy object.
- Super Memory: Observe a series of flashing lights and repeat back the correct sequences.
- Super Balance: Walk across a steel beam high above the city and look down upon spectacular views.
- Super Flight: Maneuver through an aerial course. Hold on tight!
- Super Reflexes: Play Whack A Foe! to practice how to react quickly.
Look up in the sky! Gigantic statues of Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk loom overhead. Journey through the golden age of comic books via radio and television broadcasts, video games, original 1940s radio scripts, and early comic book art.
Take a picture of friends and family flying across the sky or scaling the buildings of downtown Rochester.
The Berenstain Bears: Down a Sunny Dirt Road
Spend the day in Bear Country at The Strong museum.
Start your journey by giving big bear hugs to life-size sculptures of Mama, Papa, Brother, and Sister Bear (don’t forget your camera!). Then, walk down Bear Country Main Street where a honey-pot of exciting activities awaits at the stores and businesses inspired by the books:
- Design a quilt or work at the counter at Mama Bear’s Quilt Shop.
- Build creations with pretend tools and construction toys at Papa Bear’s Woodworking Shop.
- Serve up some lunch at the Bear Family Restaurant.
- Don a lab coat and check a giant set of teeth at Dr. Bearson’s Dentist Office.
- Visit a barn, barnyard, and fruit and vegetable stand filled with learning activities at Farmer Ben’s Farm.
- Make new friends at Brother and Sister Bear’s Club Houses.
National Toy Hall of Fame
The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame recognizes toys that have inspired creative play and enjoyed popularity over a sustained period. Each year, The Strong inducts new toy honorees.
The iconic toys of the National Toy Hall of Fame are celebrated in a gallery on the museum’s second floor. Showcasing both new and historic versions of classic toys beloved by generations, the gallery offers guests the opportunity to play and explore as they learn about America's favorite playthings:
- Dress up a giant Mr. Potato Head.
- Race a Slinky down a special staircase.
- Try your hand at play stations featuring iconic toys such as checkers, LEGO bricks, Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, and Atari.
- Marvel at an elaborate Lionel Train display and spot the iconic toys featured throughout.
- Swivel your hips with Hula Hoop, and more.
From the dawn of Pong to today’s hot gamer trends, at eGameRevolution—an original, highly interactive exhibit produced by The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG)—every generation can play its way through the history of video games.
- Grab an oversized joystick and play Giant Tetris—the only machine of its kind available for play in all of North America—or gobble up opponents on Pac-Man Battle Royale, the first 4-player Pac-Man game.
- Enter a recreated video arcade and play nearly 4 dozen historic video games*.
- Challenge friends on classic console and PC games such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario 64, SimCity, and King’s Quest.
- Play an arcade version of Guitar Hero and the latest games on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii.
- Show off your pinball powers on classic pinball machines such as TRON: Legacy and The Addams Family.
- Join in dodge ball and other games on an LED Lightspace floor.
- Create artwork on a gigantic Lite Brite-like pixel wall.
- See rare and unique artifacts like Computer Space and a Nintendo NES gray cartridge, and view notes and drawings from legendary game inventors such as Will Wright, Ralph Baer, Don Daglow, and others.
- Discover how video games changed the way people play, learn, and relate to each other.
- Learn how electronic games evolved from other forms of play.
- Explore the big controversies surrounding video games.
The magic of literature comes to life in Reading Adventureland at The Strong museum. The artifact-rich, life-size pop-up book invites guests to laugh, play, learn, and read!
Follow the Yellow Brick Road into five literary landscapes inspired by children’s books.
- Become a sleuth and solve riddles in the Mystery Mansion.
- Play with silly words and rhymes in the Upside-Down Nonsense House.
- Explore a shipwreck and caves in Adventure Island.
- Come face to face with famous fairy tale characters and settings in Fairy Tale Forest.
- Delve into the magic of fantasy in the Wizard’s Workshop.
Each area is a complete and fully-engaging environment in its own right and includes related books that can be read on site or checked out at the museum’s Grada Hopeman Gelser Library desk, a mini-branch of the Rochester Public Library System.
And don’t miss the display of colorful Little Golden Books—a sampling of playful titles from The Strong’s collection of nearly 2,400 Little Golden Books—that have inspired children’s creative play since 1942.
Your turn! Move like a piece on a giant game board through three centuries of American games, puzzles, and public amusements at Game Time! located on The Strong's second floor. Feast your eyes on oversized toy props; see rare, historic treasures from The Strong’s game and puzzle collections; and jump right in for active hands-on family fun.
- Conquer the maze in a jumbo Perplexus, designed especially for The Strong, and compare it to the 1889 original handheld ball maze Pigs in Clover that President Benjamin Harrison was known to enjoy.
- Check out oversized versions of Connect Four, Rush Hour, and Battleship; and a flashing, electronic, big-screen toy bingo.
- Challenge yourself to a gaggle of games including Jenga, air hockey, dome hockey, paper football, pinball, word search games, tangrams, puzzles, and dominoes.
- Trace the history of board-, card-, and role-playing games through a multimedia timeline showcasing historic artifacts, photographs, advertisements, and videos.
- See rare artifacts on view for a limited time, including Síochán leat (the Irish Game), a one-of-its-kind game designed by Brenda Romero to explore the 17th-century invasion of Ireland, and the Dalluhn Manuscript, a text believed by some experts to be the earliest existing version of Dungeons & Dragons.
Monopoly: An American Icon
Do not pass Go! Come directly to The Strong museum to see Monopoly: An American Icon. Guests of every age will discover the surprising story of one of America’s oldest and most popular board games in this one-of-a-kind display. Marvel at rare and historic versions of Monopoly—never before gathered together in one public space—as well as examples of modern-day sets and spinoff products based on this National Toy Hall of Fame classic.
Among the rare Monopoly sets on display:
The John Heap Monopoly, 1913: Heap’s board reflects his careful design and skills as an engineer and it represents his home town of Altoona, with still-existing streets marked in pen, and postcards showing local landmarks. The Heap game was an important piece of evidence in a decade-long Monopoly trademark dispute that began in 1974.
Charles Darrow Hand-Made, Round Monopoly Set, 1933: Charles Darrow, an unemployed plumber in search of income, was the first to market Monopoly. According to legend, his original round board was created to fit his dining room table. Darrow drew and painted the oilcloth board and produced the paper property cards. The family added their own favorite charms or figures to use as tokens.
Charles Darrow Hand-Colored “Tie-Box” Monopoly Set, 1933: Charles Darrow produced 5,000 copies of Monopoly at his own expense and sold them through a Philadelphia department store. Adding a printed label to boxes used for selling neckties, he peddled the games at Philadelphia’s Wanamaker’s department store; he soon interested Gimbels and FAO Schwarz in the game. After Parker Brothers noted the buzz and picked up the game, sales skyrocketed.
Field of Play
In The Strong’s Field of Play exhibit senses are delighted by interactive and creative-play activities, and hundreds of fascinating artifacts that illustrate the six major elements of play: anticipation, surprise, pleasure, understanding, strength, and poise.
Start with a three-screen multimedia presentation about the importance of play in human learning and creativity, then go hands-on in this one-of-a-kind play laboratory.
- Walk through a giant kaleidoscope and create and view your own kaleidoscope patterns.
- Use pulleys to power a gigantic overhead ball machine.
- “Drive” a drag racer.
- Lose all sense of proportion in the exaggerated perspective room.
- Climb a rock wall.
- Relax in the Jellyfish Jungle.
Located just outside The Strong’s main entrance, museum guests may enjoy a seasonal Discovery Garden abundant with trees, shrubs, flowering plants, and ground cover selected specifically to attract butterflies, birds, and other wildlife.
Step through the dramatic garden gate into a 9,000-square-foot urban oasis:
- Discover more than 300 varieties and species of plants.
- Explore twisting paths and hidden nooks.
- Marvel at the monarch butterflies.
- Sit for a spell in the gazebo.
- Listen to the calls of the birds and the bubbling of the pond.
- Play a game of hopscotch or ring toss.
- Make music with whimsical steel chimes.
The garden gate and plants in the Discovery Garden were made possible by Rochester Garden Club.Stone hopscotch game courtesy of Sensenig’s Landscape Supply.
Elaine Wilson Carousel and Strong Express Train
The Elaine Wilson Carousel and The Strong Express Train operate during regular museum hours. Rides cost $1 per person per ride.
Elaine Wilson Carousel
Take a spin on the lovingly restored Elaine Wilson Carousel featuring leaping horses, ponies, a chariot, and whirling tub. Manufactured in 1918 by the Allan Herschell Company in nearby North Tonawanda, New York, the carousel is an exceptional example of a country fair-style machine, built to last—a necessity when traveling from town to town.
The carousel is named in honor of the late Elaine P. Wilson in recognition of the Elaine P. Wilson and Richard U. Wilson Foundation’s generous support of the museum.
The Strong Express Train
All aboard! Hop on for a ride on The Strong Express—a passenger train for children and adults alike. Experience the thrill of old-fashioned train travel as the mini locomotive chugs down the track surrounded by scenic postcards from across America. Enjoy transportation trivia games before boarding.
This year-round, indoor train includes a locomotive, colorful passenger cars, and a caboose, of course!
Carousel and Train Punch Cards
Purchase a punch card and enjoy six rides on the Elaine Wilson Carousel or The Strong Express Train for the price of five. Punch cards may be purchased at the ride gates or at the museum admissions desk for $5.
View an array of some of the world’s most colorful fish and sea life at The Strong museum.
Marvel at the fascinating behaviors of nearly 150 species of fish and coral in Rainbow Reef. This 1,700-gallon coral reef aquarium—one of the biggest in the Northeast—features a large and low viewing surface that provides even the littlest Nemo watchers an amazing view of brilliantly colored fish, corals, anemones, shrimp, eel, and crab.
A multimedia presentation adjacent to the tank helps guests identify the various types of fish introduced into the miniature ecosystem.
Rainbow River and Sea Anemone Tanks
In close proximity to Rainbow Reef is the Rainbow River tank, home to sparkling freshwater fish found in tropical rivers from all over the world. An adjacent sea anemone tank is the perfect place to watch clownfish, like Nemo, and other small reef inhabitants up close.
Kid to Kid
Imaginations roam free in Kid to Kid, an exhibit featuring nine hands-on thematic areas that allow children to explore different means of communication and transportation.
- Discover how mail is prepared and delivered at the Kid to Kid Post Office; then create, weigh, sort, and deliver your own letters.
- Come aboard the Whaling Ship and rest below deck on readymade bunk beds, listen to classic sea chanteys, or send flag signals to friends.
- Throw on a cape, create a theater show, and perform under the lights on the Kid to Kid stage.
- Jump into the cockpit and become a helicopter pilot.
- Visit the communication center to learn Morse code.
One History Place
At The Strong museum, children and families can step into the past and experience a glimpse of life as it was a century ago. Amid artifacts and reproductions, guests explore mini-environments and go hands-on with activities reminiscent of an era of days gone by.
- Dip into a trunk of turn-of-the-century clothes and play “dress up” in the attic.
- Pump water, churn butter, and scrub clothes in the old-fashioned kitchen.
- Play the piano.
- Have a tea party in the parlor.
- Entertain guests in the living room or read books by the fireplace.
- Pretend to travel across the country at the train station.
Take the Translocation Capsule (or climb the stairs) to The Strong’s second floor and travel through time as you explore changing American trends in toys, music, popular culture, and more. This unique learning laboratory brims with objects from America’s past and present including historic toys, sports gear, video games, and television and movie clips.
- Operate the only working Time Machine in North America.
- Spin the Wheel of Toys.
- Marvel at a display of historic dolls from The Strong’s renowned doll collection including a rare Alice in Wonderland character set, Thomas Edison's talking doll, and a G. I. Joe prototype.
- Play the Toy Trivia game.
- Get into the groove at DanceLab where you can cast shadow patterns with your body as you dance to music from past decades.
- Test out your skills at Pac-Man on the original Atari 2600 video game system.
Check the calendar for upcoming special events!