A preview of what’s to come at the Strong National Museum of Play

ROCHESTER, NY – The Strong National Museum of Play was closed to the public last week as they complete a massive expansion project. The Strong’s staff gave News10NBC a preview of the new exhibits coming up.

The star of the show is a brand new 90,000 square foot building, which will host three new exhibits centered around video games.

Strong National Museum of Play is completing a massive expansion project. (News10NBC)

“Video games have become a dominant form of gaming, and so as the National Gaming Museum, it’s something we felt the need to preserve, educate and celebrate,” said the CEO and Chairman. Steve Dubnick.

A new exhibit is Level Up and includes a life-size video game where players can create an avatar of themselves as the main character. The second, High Score, details the history of video games, and even includes a replica of the first video game ever made. The last one is a gallery showcasing art in video games.

The building also houses the new entrance, as well as a souvenir shop three times larger than the old one. Near the old entrance is the Hasbro Game Park, which features 17,000 square feet of larger-than-life games for patrons to play outdoors.

A 20-foot-tall fire and water-breathing dragon from Dungeons & Dragons is new to the Strong National Museum of Play.

Dubnik’s favorite novelty is in this park: a 20-foot-tall, fire-and-water-breathing dragon from the tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons. Kids (and adults) can press a glowing red D-20 to activate the five-headed dragon.

But all is not new for Dubnik. It is also about what remained in storage.

“We have a collection of over 500,000 objects of which only a small fraction are on display,” he said. “So expanding and creating new exhibits gives us the opportunity to increase the visibility of what we have.”

He says the interior of the old museum will also get a makeover. Because The Strong is open almost every day of the year, they take the opportunity to deep clean just about everything in the museum.

Back outside, there are also two new common areas that will be open to the public.

“The museum expansion is really central to the gaming district,” Dubnik said. “And so inside of that you have places to live, places to work, places to eat, places to celebrate inside, and places to stay in the hotel that was built.”

Plazas will display “Play Happened Here” signs, which speak to the history of the game, dating back to native communities in Western New York.

Jumping into the future, the expansion will also bring to life an augmented reality butterfly experience, where people can see virtual butterflies flying around them.

“And that’s just a lot of wonders, a lot of things that nobody here has ever seen,” Dubnik said.

When asked how high-tech the museum was, he laughed.

“It has to be,” he said. “The game has become high-tech, hasn’t it? And so we have to be there with the way people play.

The Strong Museum of Play will reopen to the public at 1 p.m. on June 30.

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