Hasbro GameLand celebrates legacy of Milton Bradley
Date: 11/21/2011Nov. 21, 2011
By Chris Maza
Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD Throughout his life, Milton Bradley celebrated the education of children, according to George Burtch, Hasbro Inc. vice president of global integration.
That is why the newest exhibit celebrating the life and contributions of Bradley at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History located at the Quadrangle is a bilingual, interactive and educational play place for kids.
“When you think of what Milton Bradley accomplished, you have to remember that he was always an advocate for the education of young people,” Burtch said. “He was involved in a lot of educational movements, including the movement to bring kindergarten to the United States. This is a true tribute to all the things he represented.”
Hasbro GameLand, which will open to the public on Nov. 25, incorporates fun with learning for children in grades 2 through 5, utilizing aspects of several popular Milton Bradley and Hasbro games to explore memory, chance, imagination, strategy and word play.
“Think of all the ways games teach us over the years,” Holly Smith-Bové, president of the Springfield Museums, said. “This exhibit shows all the ways games have taught us in our youth.”
For example, a racing station positioned at the center of the exhibit embodies the game Mouse Trap through a complex machine performing a simple task. Sitting in seats with bicycle pedals, children can compete, pedaling as fast as they can to raise five billiard balls to the top of a large twisting ramp that the balls race down. The first to have all five balls reach the bottom of the ramp wins.
The memory station features a take on the game Simon in which children watch a series of lights then try to repeat the sequence they see with their hands.
A chance station contains a large, multi-colored wheel with numbers, a tip of the cap to The Game of Life, which is the modern version of Milton Bradley’s first game, The Checkered Game of Life. Visitors can spin the giant wheel and pick a number they feel the wheel will stop on. Another feature of the station includes plastic bubbles with die in them from the game Trouble.
A strategy section allows visitors to play a large, light-up game of Connect Four.
The imagination station features a zoetrope, which Milton Bradley patented, while the word nook is a small cave where young children must help find letters on the ceiling that start a word that is given to them.
Katie Craig, one of the exhibit’s designers, pointed out that visitors won’t find many computer screens at the exhibit because she and fellow designer Dorrie Brooks wanted to find unique and different ways to capture children’s attention and imagination.
“I think a lot of times kids spend too much time in front of computer monitors,” she said. “In order to be truly interactive, we wanted to do more.”
At the entrance to the exhibit and among the stations is information about Milton Bradley, his life and his accomplishments, as well as a timeline of when some of the company’s most popular games came to be.
“We wanted to make sure that kids had a chance to know the history of Milton Bradley and how fortunate we as a city are that he is a part of our history,” Bové said.
While youth is very well served at the exhibit, the museum wanted to ensure that the exhibit was a place where all who visited could enjoy.
“Parents, adults and older children can walk through here and remember when they played these games and the children can learn and maybe play some of these games for the first time. We wanted to make this a place that parents would be excited about, as well,” Bové said, adding she hoped the exhibit would attract parents who had wanted to visit the museum before, but hadn’t found the opportunity.
Burtch said overall, the museum did a fine job in capturing the past and present of Bradley and Hasbro.
“The museum did a fabulous job in making this a special place,” Burtch said. “When we started this project, it had a two-fold purpose. We wanted it to be a place for kids and we wanted to make sure it told the story of Milton Bradley and how important he is to the city of Springfield. Never did we imagine it would be this fabulous.”
The Wood Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free for Springfield residents with proof of address and $12.50 for other adults, $9 for seniors and college students and $6.50 for children ages 3 to 17. Children 3 and younger are also free.
For more information, call 263-6800 or visit www.springfieldmuseums.com