Baltimore has a gem in the National Pinball Museum, the love labor of curator and pinball enthusiast, David Silverman. The concept is simple: have a museum for the history of the pinball machine. However, the brilliance of the place is its floor of playable pinball machines from the 1950s to the present. When you buy your pass to the museum, you actually buy a play card too, loaded with coinage to flipper some balls around to your hearts content.
First up is the History of Pinball exhibit. I had no idea that pinball actually started with the French game Bagatelle, a version of billiards. Then, at pinball’s height of popularity in the 30’s, there were such things as pinball arcades that were almost like a bar/casino.
Then I took the elevator to the second floor. Here was the heart of the museum, the arcade. I played a pinball machine from every decade starting at the 50’s. First, I played the Queen of Hearts from the 50’s. It was a bit old school and very bouncy. This one was nicer to me than the rest. Next, I played a baseball machine from the 60’s, then stumbled upon the greatest pinball game ever, the 1970’s Fireball (more on that in another post). The 80’s was represented in creepy, evil puppet head style in Road Show, and then I finished up with the Addams Family and Avatar from the 90’s and 2000’s respectively. I had to play the Addams Family game because it used to be in an arcade in a bowling alley where my parents took me as a child. In fact, the whole museum really transports you to a new time where things are simple. Just smack a ball towards a target when you’re supposed to. Pure, simple fun. This is a must for those with the active inner child.