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A museum to create a national archive of the history of the game show

“Showcase Showdowns” and “Daily Doubles” of yesteryear will no longer be relegated to simple reruns.

A museum in Rochester, New York, announced Wednesday that it will house the first national archives in game show history to preserve artifacts and footage from programs like “Jeopardy!” “The Price is Right” and “The $ 25,000 Pyramid”.

The archives will be kept at the Strong National Museum of Play, which is undergoing an expansion that will add 90,000 square feet to its space and is expected to be completed by 2023.

Museum curators already have ideas on the types of artifacts that would make an ideal centerpiece and demand items from collectors.

“The wheel of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ would be iconic,” Chris Bensch, museum vice president of collections, said Wednesday in an interview. The museum, he said, would gladly accept the letterboard, as well as a dress from the show’s famous letter turner, Vanna White.

Museum officials said there was a lack of dedicated game show preservation groups. They represent a key aspect of the history of television and culture in America, from the first panels and quiz scandals of the 1950s to the mainstays of evening television.

“This is something we feel uniquely qualified for,” Bensch said of the museum, which opened in 1982.

The creation of the archives is part of the museum’s wider expansion, which is supported by a $ 60 million campaign. The cost of the archives remains to be determined.

Several high-profile names have already lined up to support the project, according to the museum, which said the archives co-founders are Howard Blumenthal and Bob Boden, the producers of “Where is Carmen Sandiego?” and “Funny you should ask.”

The museum, which already houses the World Video Game Hall of Fame and the National Toy Hall of Fame, has found another key ally: Ken Jennings, the “Jeopardy! champion.

“There is a pleasant nostalgia for game shows for generations of Americans,” Jennings said in an interview Wednesday.

Calling for the overdue preservation effort, Mr Jennings said people were starting to realize the importance of game shows as they did with other great 20th century art forms like jazz and bands. drawn.

“I think it’s the game show’s turn,” he said.

In a statement released by the museum, veteran game show host Wink Martindale said there was some urgency to the preservation effort.

“Without this initiative, many of the primary resources relating to these shows, as well as the oral histories of their creators and talents, were in danger of being lost forever,” he said.

The museum, which welcomed nearly 600,000 visitors in 2019 before the pandemic, said it was looking to acquire everything from sets and audience tickets to press photographs.

“It deserves a place where it can be preserved, a place where academics, the media and the general public can access it,” Bensch said.

The museum does not limit its focus to those who are in front of the camera. Officials said contestants, TV crews and members of the public will play an important role in preserving the history of game shows.

“There are so many important people who have shaped this industry over the years,” said Mr. Bensch. “They deserve a chance to tell their stories. We also plan to do video oral histories with key people so that we directly capture their stories and share them with the world. “

It looks like the museum has a trail on an artifact.

“If they want a tie, I lost on ‘Jeopardy!’ with, ”Mr. Jennings said,“ they’re happy to have it. “

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