Nation's largest pinball museum to open in Baltimore

Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:05pm EDT
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By Jason Tomassini

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Decades after he slept under a beloved first pinball machine wedged into his cramped apartment, David Silverman will open the nation's largest museum dedicated to speeding silver balls and fast-motion flippers.

The National Pinball Museum will open this fall in a 12,000 square foot space in the heart of Baltimore's tourist district and will include exhibits on the history of pinball - its beginnings in 18th-century France, its move to America, the advent of the flipper in 1946 and, later, digital technology.

The vast space will stocked with up to 900 pinball machines from Silverman's collection, ranging from an original French bagatelle game with pins and no flippers to a Stars Wars-type game, one of just 15 ever made.

"Pinball is more than a game," Silverman said from the museum's new home as movers bustled by. "We aren't building an arcade, we are building a museum."

The museum, when it opens in November, will also feature space for private parties, educational programs and two floors of "pay-to-play" pinball machines.

Silverman, in his 60s, a landscape designer from suburban Washington, D.C., got his first pinball machine when he was in his 20s. He shoehorned it into his apartment, where he had no other option but to sleep beneath it.

Soon he married, living in larger quarters, and his collection grew to 300 machines that he kept in a backyard storage building.

At his wife Mimi's suggestion, Silverman opened the space as a museum. But to truly illustrate pinball's long history, he needed more machines. He now owns 900.   Continued...