This week The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York received the Chairman’s Special Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a “rare” acknowledgement that includes a large federal grant worth $700,000. The Strong plans to use their grant to create an exhibit that showcases the influence video games have had on contemporary culture and the humanities, tentatively titled Digital Worlds.
The Strong, host of the World Video Game Hall of Fame, plans for Digital Worlds to be a 24,000 foot interactive exhibit split into two sections. The Strong plans to “tell the story of how video games have shaped the way that people connect, play, and learn” through two separate areas. The first section “Level Up” will mimic the experience of being a character in a video game, with quests and puzzles to solve along the way. The second area “High Score” will be more focused on the evolution of the gaming industry and showcase aspects of the work that goes into a game’s development process. The Strong also plans to exhibit “gaming artifacts” from famous collections and emphasize the importance of collaboration between the humanities, art, and the STEM fields in creating immersive digital experiences.
We’re honored to be selected for the Chairman’s Special Award and appreciate NEH’s recognition of the importance of video games to our ever-changing social history and cultural fabric.
In the news release, Strong President and CEO Steve Dubnik said that “with the help of this grant, The Strong will be able to build a truly one-of-a-kind experience that will make the museum even more of a national destination.” Dubnik went on to explain the value of the NEH grant. “Support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and other organizations is vital in helping transformative projects like ours to be successful so that we can share the cultural impact of play and electronic games with the world. ”
Just as the novel fueled imagination in the 19th century and film and television defined the cultural narratives of the 20th century, electronic games today are rapidly driving cultural and social change.
“Video games are perhaps the most important medium of the 21st century,” says The Strong’s Vice President for Exhibits Jon-Paul Dyson, stressing the cultural proliferation of gaming in contemporary society. “We look forward—with the help of NEH—to continue to tell that important story to visitors from around the world.”
The Strong plans to open Digital Worlds to the public in 2022.