Springfield History Museum News

Hasbro GameLand to Open at the Wood Museum of Springfield History

Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

November 15, 2011

Hasbro GameLand, a dynamic new hands-on exhibit for children, will open to the public on November 25 in the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History at the Quadrangle. Made possible by a grant from the Hasbro Children’s Fund, the exhibit pays tribute to Springfield entrepreneur Milton Bradley and explores games of memory, chance, speed, imagination, strategy and word play. Opening day festivities will include family activities and appearances by the costumed characters MR. POTATO HEAD, PRINCESS FROSTINE and ELEFUN from popular Hasbro toys and games.

“Milton Bradley is a perfect example of the kind of successful entrepreneur who made Springfield a thriving city. He also contributed to the wider current of American history by designing board games to fill America’s expanding leisure hours and by creating educational supplies for the revolutionary new kindergarten movement,” said Holly Smith-Bové, president of the Springfield Museums. “Since so much of what Milton Bradley did was for children, I think he would be delighted with this new gallery created especially for them and their families.”

Brightly colored and decorated with images of familiar board game box tops, the bilingual Hasbro GameLand incorporates interactive elements of some of the iconic games produced by the company, such as an oversized, operable spinner from THE GAME OF LIFE game.  Another activity in the section on “Chance” features large “Trouble Bubbles” containing dice.

In the “Word Play” section kids can play word search games in English or Spanish on a large touch screen. Inside the “Word Nook,” listening to spoken words and finding the three-dimensional letter that begins each word helps reinforce reading skills while kids enjoy interacting with the technology. Children can also make words by turning large four-sided letter cubes on the “Word Wall.”

The “Coordination Station” invites kids to test their balance as they try to stay standing on raised wobbly disks. At the “Racing Station” children compete in a race against each other as they pedal as fast as they can to raise balls to the top of a large cylinder. Once the ball reaches the top, they can watch the balls race down a complicated contraption of moving parts that was inspired by the MOUSE TRAP game.

In the “Imagination Station,” kids can explore an early type of animation, the Zoetrope, by looking into large cylinder painted with images along the inside and spinning it to see the still art turn into animation. It may surprise many that the Zoetrope was actually patented in this country by Milton Bradley.

At the “Memory Station,” in an activity inspired by the game SIMON, children watch a series of drums light up and then try to repeat the sequence by pressing the drums with their hands.

The Wood Museum of Springfield History pays tribute to the industries and entrepreneurs that made Springfield a prosperous city in the 19th and 20th centuries. One of these was the Springfield business man Milton Bradley, “the man who taught Americans how to play.”

Milton Bradley (1836-1911) moved to Springfield in 1856 and founded a lithography/publishing business in 1860. He transformed his failing lithography shop into a thriving business when he produced THE CHECKERED GAME OF LIFE game, thus launching the board game industry in America. The business was bought by Hasbro, Inc. in 1984.  

“In 1860 a young man by the name of Milton Bradley launched into a venture that would challenge the minds of children of all ages for generations.  Hasbro GameLand brings to life all of the wonderful experiences that Milton Bradley himself delivered through his games and educational offerings,” said Jeff Lombard, senior vice president of Operations at Hasbro, Inc. in East Longmeadow, Mass. “Hasbro is pleased to be part of ensuring that Milton Bradley’s legacy is now a significant part of this fabulous museum that honors the history of Springfield.”

The exhibit also includes a brief biography of Milton Bradley along with a timeline showing when some of the company’s most well-known games, such as CANDY LAND, CHUTES AND LADDERS and TWISTER, became available to the public.

Hasbro GameLand was designed by Katie Craig and Dorrie Brooks, and fabricated by 5Wits Productions.

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