BALTIMORE, MD -- The National Pinball Museum, which recently closed its doors at its original site in Washington, DC, has reopened at its new Baltimore home. Forced out of its original shopping mall location, The Shops at Georgetown Park, the nonprofit has relocated to the bustling tourist section of Baltimore's celebrated Inner Harbor.
According to museum founder David Silverman, the new venue, called The Chocolate Factory, provides 12,000 square feet on four floors in a historic building at 608 Water Street.
"The new location is within walking distance of the harbor, just three blocks from the water," said Silverman. "We have about the same amount of space, but it's a very different configuration. And we have the whole building.
"I really think this is a much better space than we had," Silverman added. "We're not going to be built out the way we were, but right now the primary idea is to get up and running, and make people aware in Baltimore that we're here."
The relocated Pinball Museum opened in January. As it had in its original Georgetown location, the museum showcases approximately 200 classic machines from Silverman's extensive collection. It also houses a gift shop, a library, a small theater and a pay-to-play area.
The original Pinball Museum hosted some 6,000 visitors in the nearly seven months during which it was open, Silverman reported. He expects the new location should attract even more. The move to the Inner Harbor district puts the museum at the heart of the city's cultural center that also is home to the Baltimore Convention Center, National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center and a premier entertainment and dining complex, Power Plant Live!
Among the machines featured at the museum are Capcom's rare Big Bang Bar and Kingpin, both from the 1990s, of which only a handful were produced. There are also plenty of older classics as well as examples of game types ancestral to pinball, such as French bagatelle tables from the 18th century and equipment created by legendary 19th-century pinball innovator Montague Redgrave, whose Ohio-based factory turned out the first designs with a plunger.
The move to Charm City concludes a difficult period, in which the museum was confronted by a mall management company that denied a temporary lease extension until the new space was prepared. Despite its problems, the museum did receive offers from numerous cities vying for the non-profit attraction, the museum's directors recalled.
"The welcome we've received from Baltimore has been overwhelming," said Tiffani Huskey, the museum's director of operations. "We are honored to become part of a community that values the art, history, and pastime of pinball. We're looking forward to building partnerships with local organizations and businesses to launch our Education and Community Outreach Program as soon as possible."
The institution is open Fridays from noon to 8 p.m., on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. Complete information is available at nationalpinballmuseum.org. The NPM also maintains a Twitter feed and Facebook page.