Make us your home page
Instagram

Museums preserve pinball for the ages

Whether you are a pinball wizard or mere gaming mortal, you can relive the days of your misspent youth at two Tarpon Springs museums.

•The Replay Amusement Museum, 119 E Tarpon Ave. in Tarpon Springs

Here, a historic district storefront has been converted into a gallery filled with more than 100 vintage pinball machines and arcade games like Old Chicago, Twilight Zone, Funhouse and Ms. Pac-Man.

Leave your pocket change at home. These former quarter-eaters are now set to free play. There is a play-all-day admission of $13 for adults and $7 for children 7 to 12 years. Children 6 and under are free with a paying adult.

Without a doubt, the machines of yesteryear have an allure to them that no smartphone app or home gaming system does. Their blinking multicolor lights, fantasy artwork, and sounds of dings, beeps and musical flourishes beckon you to put the silver balls in play.

The collection includes the newly released Ghostbusters pinball machine and Atari's Hercules, "the biggest pinball machine ever made," according to owner, Brian Cheaney, 37.

Cheaney and his wife, Becky, own SonicPrint, a printing company with offices in Tarpon Springs and Tampa. He credits the success of his print business for allowing them to amass these machines, which typically cost thousands each.

After they filled up their home, and the homes of friends and family with their growing collection, they decided the next best step was to create their own museum. Replay opened in October 2014.

"These machines don't really exist in the wild anymore," he said. "We wanted to have a place where people can come and remember the thrill of these games and to preserve them for future generations."

Once ubiquitous in bars and bowling alleys across the nation, pinball and arcade games more or less went silent in the 1990s with the arrival of home-based video games. Along the way, many eventually ended up in landfills or in the hands of private collectors.

Now, just like vinyl records, the machines are making a multigenerational comeback with nostalgic grandparents and parents anxious to show the younger generation just what it was like to pull a plunger and whack a pinball. Museums like the Cheaneys' are starting to pop up all over the U.S.

"Games are such an integral part of our lives," Cheaney said. "It's nice to show kids where it all started."

•Youth Gone Wild: The History and Art of Pinball, an exhibit at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art

In the mid-20th century arcade games were considered corruptive tools that robbed youth of their coins and innocence. Across the nation, politicians and police banned, confiscated and destroyed them.

Learn more about the prohibition period and the arcade era (1970s to 1990s) at this companion exhibit on display through Sept. 18 at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. Teaming up with the Replay Amusement Museum, the LRMA offers a look at the history and artwork behind the games.

The display includes a 1931, coin-operated Baffle Ball game by Gottlieb and Co., which helped launch the pinball industry. There are some working pinball machines in the Interactive Gallery that patrons are free to play, including the best-selling pinball machine of all time, the Addams Family.

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at [email protected]

. IF YOU GO

Xyxyxyx

•The Replay Amusement Museum is located at 119 E Tarpon Ave. in Tarpon Springs. There is a play-all-day admission charge of $13 for adults and $7 for children 7 to 12 years. Children 6 and under are free with a paying adult. Ask about Date Night specials. The museum is open Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information visit www.replaymuseum.org or call (727) 233-8490.

•The Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art is at 600 Klosterman Road on the Tarpon Springs Campus of St. Petersburg College. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and free to children, students and active military with ID. Admission is by donation on Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. Visit www.leeparattner.com or call (727) 712-5762 for information.

Museums preserve pinball for the ages 06/21/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Seasoned cast scores an extra-base hit for St. Petersburg Opera with 'Faust'

    Stage

    TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season with Faust, in a production seemingly aligned with the original intent of French composer Charles Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. [St. Petersburg Opera Company]
  2. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway

    Stage

    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.
  3. A scene from "Epiphany."
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 22

    Events

    Clearwater Jazz Holiday: The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers, with their blend of folk, bluegrass and rock, lead the lineup. 1:30 p.m., Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater. $16 per day, $45 reserved, $170 VIP. (727) 461-5200.

    AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15:  (L-R)  Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Seth Avett, and Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers pose for a portrait at the "May It Last: A Portrait Of The Avett Brothers" Premiere - 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 15, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 21

    Events

    Conor Oberst: The Bright Eyes mastermind will be joined by opener, the Felice Brothers. 8 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30.50-$36. (727) 791-7400.

    Handout photo of Conor Oberst, performing Oct. 21 at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Credit: Grandstand Media