Strong Museum will expand with $7.5M in federal funding

ROCHESTER N.Y. (WHEC) — The Strong National Museum of Play has received $7.5 million in federal funding to expand its indoor and outdoor exhibits, announced Senator Chuck Schumer on Tuesday.

The funding will help the museum with phase two of its expansion, which includes building a video game exhibit called Digital Worlds and a large outdoor play garden.

The grant aims to boost tourism in the Finger Lakes region by increasing attendance at Strong Museum, Schumer said. After Strong Museum applied for the federal grant, Schumer spoke with the U.S. Commerce Secretary to advocate for selecting the museum.

Authorities predict that the museum expansion could generate $160 million in annual tourism revenue for Finger Lakes, because of an increase in museum visitors coming from outside the Rochester area.

The museum plans to expand its Neighborhood of Play, the network of interactive exhibits with themes such as comic book superheroes and Sesame Street. The goal with the new exhibits that will increase the annual number of visitors from 600,000 to nearly 1 million, said the museum’s president, Steve Dubnik.

Schumer said the museum’s grant could assist Rochester’s plans to boost economic development in downtown.

“The Strong National Museum of Play is an economic anchor, and this $7.5 million investment is the final piece of the puzzle to complete its expansion,” he said.

The funding for the expansion comes from the Competitive Tourism Program, part of the American Rescue Plan that Congress passed in March 2021. The program distributes grants for revitalizing tourism after the pandemic to organizations that apply.

The announcement of the funding comes two weeks after Strong Museum announced the inductees to their World Video Game Hall of Fame.