Strong National Museum of Play new exterior cover

Strong National Museum of Play

Museum of Play Visitor Information ►

Things to know before you go!

The Strong National Museum of Play has a wealth of interaction for toddlers, school-aged children and adults. The Strong houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. And it all started with a little girl whose love of collecting mirrored her parents, who happily encouraged her—Margaret Woodbury Strong.

Strong Museum of Play Conect Four window

A playful history

Margaret opened her valuable and obsessive collection to the public originally in her home on Allen Creek Road after her husband’s death, having already lost her only daughter 12 years prior. Quoting author Donovan Shilling from the The Crooked Lake Review, “Margaret Woodbury Strong had the three qualities required for a world-class collector: she had a driving passion for collecting, the rooms to store her treasures, and the almost limitless resources with which to carry out her “fascination” quest.”

Margaret’s father’s business partner was the same Henry Alva Strong who invested in the vision of young George Eastman. At her death, she was the largest owner of Kodak stock in the world! She willed $100,000,000 plus 300,000 collected items to the expansion of her “Museum of Fascination” in a new location at One Manhattan Square.

From The Strong website, “In 2002, The Strong acquired the National Toy Hall of Fame from A. C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village in Salem, Oregon. …the museum determined to concentrate fully on its core collections of toys, dolls, and other artifacts of play and refined its mission accordingly. Between 2004 and 2006, the museum nearly doubled its physical footprint to 285,000 square feet, making it one of nation’s largest history museums.” And second largest children’s museum to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Strong Museum Wegmans

The Wegmans exhibit is exciting because the kids can “shop” for their own products with carts or baskets, weigh their items, pretend to bake bread and pizza, serve sushi and coffee, and then check out their cart at the registers.

It is a great exhibit for parents and children to play together.

Strong Museum of Play Bill Grays Skyliner Diner exterior
Strong Museum of Play Big Bird Sesame Street
Strong Museum tilted rooms
Strong Museum of Play Mystery Mansion
Strong Museum Sesame Street
Strong Museum reading adventureland

Inside Strong Museum of Play

From a historical perspective, the Toys Hall of Fame and the immense doll collection of Margaret Woodbury Strong are enough to keep anyone occupied for an entire day.

Strong Museum display
Strong National Museum of Play dollhouse
Strong National Museum of Play barbies
Strong Museum Kewpie

It will transport you back into the fun of your childhood! Collections of GI Joe and Barbie, board games, hand-held games, pinball & arcade games, Tinker Toys, dollhouses, train sets… Rochester is lucky to host such an overwhelming collection!

Strong Butterfly Garden
Strong Butterfly Garden
Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden
Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden
Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden
Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden

Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden

The butterfly garden has a separate admission fee, and is the only year-round indoor butterfly garden in upstate New York. With a rain-forest environment it’s the perfect retreat from winter!

The tickets used to be timed, but now you can enter at any time and stay for as long as you’d like.

Strong National Museum of Play pinball

The Pinball Playfields & Classic Arcade Games

As the girls got older, the amazing collection of video arcade and pinball machines became more of the draw.

Strong Museum space invaders

The Strong rarely has a machine on the floor that is not in perfect condition, with staff present if a machine goes down, or steals a token. They are happy to reimburse you with a replacement token if it does happen.

Strong National Museum of Play legos
Strong National Museum of Play front garden
Strong National Museum of Play connect four

Outside the Strong National Museum of Play

It’s free to explore Strong Museum’s grounds. Around the entire perimeter, and in the middle of Monroe Ave, there are engaging installations and gardens to enjoy.

Martin Luther King Jr Park Strong Museum
Martin Luther King Jr Park mural
Martin Luther King Jr Park

Make sure to walk across the street to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at Manhattan Square!

Strong National Museum of Play colorful cubes

More information about The Strong National Museum of Play

Cost: Admission for Museum, Butterfly exhibit is additional

Located in the City of Rochester (get directions). While under construction, GPS may not be accurate.

More information:

Strong National Museum of Play parking garage cover
Parking Garage

Parking: Visit the museum’s website for helpful directions and parking information. They are still in a state of transition.

With the location of the entrance and new parking garage moved to Howell Street, you must now pay for admission or have a museum membership to access Bill Gray’s diner.

Margaret Woodbury Strong had an amazing life, and Crooked Lake Review does a wonderful job telling her story.

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What is your favorite spot in the Strong National Museum of Play?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!


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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.