The Strong® owns and cares for the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, dolls, games, electronic games, books, photographs, documents, and other historical materials 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.
Recent acquisitions to The Strong’s collections include the Gerald A. “Jerry” Lawson Collection that documents how pioneering African-American engineer Jerry Lawson helped revolutionize the video game industry through his design of the Fairchild Channel F, the first video game system to use interchangeable cartridges; a massive collection of nearly 7,000 Japanese video games representing complete or nearly complete collections of 22 Japanese systems; the personal and business records that chronicle the 30-year career of Philip E. Orbanes who is widely recognized as the foremost authority on Monopoly and Parker Brothers, as well as a collection of more than 500 items that includes the world’s most comprehensive collection of classic Monopoly games; and 1,950 action figures assembled by Fon Davis, a Star Wars enthusiast and former Industrial Light and Magic model maker, who had worked on the earliest Star Wars movies in the 1970s and 1980s.
Learn more about The Strong’s key collections holdings.
For purposes of management and interpretation, these collections are organized and maintained under three different Play Partners or programmatic arms of The Strong.
- The National Museum of Play at The Strong is home to hundreds of thousands of historical objects related to play, including an unparalleled collection of dolls, toys, and games.
- The International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) at The Strong houses and interprets the largest and most comprehensive public collection of video games, other electronic games, and game-related historical materials in the United States and one of the largest in the world.
- The 150,000-volume Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong holds a full spectrum of primary and secondary sources, including scholarly works, professional journals, other periodicals, trade catalogs, children’s books, and comic books. The library and archives is also home to nationally significant collections of personal papers, business records, and other materials related to play. ICHEG’s library and archival collections also reside there.
Thousands of The Strong’s artifacts are on exhibit in the National Museum of Play and thousands more are accessible online, including examples of toys inducted into The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame. Additional artifacts are added online regularly. Information about collections in The Strong’s Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play is accessible through the online catalog of the library and archives.
To promote and advance play scholarship, The Strong invites academic professionals, independent scholars, museum scholars, and advanced graduate students at the Masters or PhD level to apply for The Strong Research Fellowships. Fellowships provide financial support for scholarly play research conducted on site at The Strong in Rochester, New York, and are awarded three times each year for periods of study ranging from one week to three months. Recipients must reside outside a 50-mile radius of The Strong and eligible research projects must benefit from access to collections held by The Strong.