December 17, 2015
For Immediate Release
The Strong Museum Acquires Collection of Atari Design Materials
ROCHESTER, New York—The Strong in Rochester, New York, has acquired from collectors Cort and Barbara Allen of Pleasanton, California, more than 2,000 drawings, photographs, proofs, preliminary package mock-ups, drafts of game manual scripts, unused packaging, and other internal documents from the middle 1970s and early 1980s used in the design and creation of Atari home console, computer, and handheld game packaging and manuals.
“Atari is one of the most important companies in the history of electronic games,” says Jeremy Saucier, assistant director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “This artwork illustrates how Atari created some of its iconic video game packaging during an era when video games became a staple of daily play.”
The Cort and Barbara Allen Atari Packaging Design Collection (1976–1984) includes packaging and manual design materials for the Atari 2600 home console (1982 version); an unreleased Kee Games (company created by Joe Keenan, friend of Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell) version of the Atari 2600; the Touch Me (1977) handheld electronic game; and Atari 2600, Atari 5200, personal computer, and competitor’s consoles games, such as Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, Pac-Man, Pole Position, Donkey Kong Jr., Jungle Hunt,Robotron 2084, Surround, Asteroids, and Real Sports Football. The collection also includes foreign language (PAL region and French language) materials and artist Cliff Spohn’s original package cover artwork for the 1977 Atari Video Computer System launch title Surround.
The collection contains materials that demonstrate how Atari created the manuals that explained video game play to millions of early video game players. Other documentation shows Atari’s transition to new “arcade”-style packaging (which used an arcade game’s recognizable arcade logo) in June 1983 and how Atari worked with Nintendo to design and refine the packaging for Mario Bros.
“Packages protect and preserve, but they are also expressive. Atari’s vibrant video game packaging often bridged the gap between the fantastic game worlds that players imagined themselves entering and the abstract and blocky graphics on their video screens,” says Saucier. “This artwork and documentation, which add to The Strong’s exceptional collection of other materials related to Atari, help us better understand how a gaming pioneer packaged and sold its products to a new video game playing public.“
The Cort and Barbara Allen Atari Packaging Design Collection sits among the world’s most comprehensive collections of video games, other electronic games, and electronic game-related historical materials—including the Atari Coin-Op Division Collection. The materials will be available to researchers and as part of future displays.
About The Strong
The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play.
About the International Center for the History of Electronic Games
The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) collects, studies, and interprets video games, other electronic games, and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography. As a result of ICHEG’s efforts, The Strong’s collection of video games, other electronic games, and game-related historical materials is the largest and most comprehensive public assemblage in the United States and one of the largest in the world.