Collections

The Strong owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, board games, video games, other electronic games, books, documents, and other historical materials related to play. This unprecedented assemblage offers a unique interpretive and educational window into the critical role of play in human physical, social, and intellectual development and the ways in which play reflects cultural history.

Recent Acquisitions 

Recent acquisitions to The Strong’s collections include the ​Toys for Bob Skylanders Collection, 2009, which includes an array of objects and documentation related to the development of the franchise, including the first working prototype portal; the Wargaming Collection, 2000–2018, an assemblage of promotional items, fan-created scultures, and more than 25,000 pieces of digital documentation; the American Pinball Companies Collection, 1933–2000, which includes tens of thousands of pages of archival materials documenting the history of there of the most important American pinball companies, Bally, Midway, and Willliams; and the Bromley Game Collection, 1960–1985, a rare assortment of first-edition strategy and simulation games, wargames, and role-playing games that chronicle the early history of American board game publisher Mayfield Games and the evolution of early game development, prior to the computer age.

Key Holdings

The Strong holds more than 480,000 historical objects related to play. These provide the foundation for The Strong’s mission to explore play and the ways in which it encourages learning, creativity, and discovery and illuminates cultural history. The museum’s holdings are organized according to the following major categories, but some individual groupings of collections relate to more than one category and appear here according to their greatest content association.

Access to Collections

Thousands of artifacts from The Strong’s collections are on view in museum exhibits. Tens of thousands of objects are accessible through the museum’s rapidly growing online collections database. Further, the online catalog of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play provides a window in The Strong’s vast collection of books and trade publications. On-site access to the full museum collection is available to scholars, students, collectors, and other researchers by appointment.

Donate to Collections

The Strong welcomes donations that advance the museum’s mission to collect, preserve, exhibit, and research objects, publications, personal papers, business records, advertising and other promotional materials, photographs, and other items that illustrate and document the role of play in learning and human development and the ways in which it illuminates cultural history, particularly but not exclusively, in America.