Steve Benson 2017-04-05 02:17:33
She collected “things.” She had a passion for collecting. She had the space to store and display them. She had enough money that she could pretty much buy whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. Most of what she bought was small in size. Books. Photographs. Prints and etchings. Toys. Games. Model cars and ships. Porcelain figurines. Medallions. Jewelry. Shells. Stamps. Coins. Fossils. Glass. Buttons. Doorknobs. Minerals. Tiffany lamps. Toy windmills. Book plates… 86,000 of them! 600 doll houses. 27,000 dolls! Her name was Margaret Woodbury Strong, and she was the daughter of a wealthy businessman whose own father had been fortunate enough to have helped finance the startup of the Eastman Kodak Company. Margaret never touched the capital she inherited. By the time she died in 1969, she was Kodak’s largest individual shareholder, worth more than 80 million dollars. As a child traveling to exotic places — China, Japan, India, Ceylon, Egypt, Provence — on shopping trips she was given a small bag and told that, once it was full, she could buy no more. She soon learned that filling the bag with many small objects was more fun than reaching her limit with one or two. It was then that her fondness for miniatures took hold. Margaret Woodbury Strong, 1897–1972 One of Margaret’s thousands of dolls Growing up in Rochester, she indulged her fancy and whimsy for all things collectible. After moving to a 51-acre estate on Allen’s Creek Road in 1937, she even created a dollhouse village illuminated with Christmas lights where the paths to each house were scrupulously shoveled after each snow. Perhaps cultivating her reputation as an eccentric, she once bought 45 bathtubs from an old hotel in Kennebunkport, and in an effort to prevent neighbors from trespassing, lined them up along the property line of her Kennebunkport cottage and had her gardener utilize them as planters, saying that she had always had the idea of creating a hedge of bathtubs. Throughout her life she espoused a philosophy focusing on the beneficial aspects of play. She lived the advice she preached, not only in her passion for collecting, but as an adept archer and world-class golfer. Shortly before she died, she created a museum to display her more than 500,000 pieces and she made it the primary beneficiary of her 80 million dollar legacy. It took 13 years to construct, but when the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum opened in 1982 at One Manhattan Square in Rochester, it immediately became the largest museum of “play” in the world. It has since grown by leaps and bounds. Now known as The Strong, it includes the National Museum of Play and the National Toy Hall of Fame, and attracts visitors from all over the world where adults and kids alike can understand and embrace the importance of play.
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