BALTIMORE — Ping, ping, ping . . . music to pinball lovers’ ears. Sure, the game may have had its heyday in the 1960s and ’70s, but if you ask one of the many visitors to the National Pinball Museum here, it is still one of America’s favorite pastimes.
Opened earlier this year after relocating from Washington, the four-story museum is fast becoming a top draw in a city that already boasts interesting attractions such as the American Visionary Art Museum and the Baltimore Tattoo Museum.
Founded by Silver Spring, Md., landscape designer David Silverman as a way to showcase his collection of more than 900 pinball machines, the museum is located in a funky old brick chocolate factory building near the bustling Inner Harbor.
As visitors enter, they are transported to 1777 and into a replica of the billiard room of the Château de Bagatelle, a French estate owned by the younger brother of King Louis XVI and brother-in-law of Marie Antoinette, where it is thought that the first version of what would become pinball was played on table tops.
From exhibit to exhibit, floor to floor, visitors follow the game’s 140-year history. And if Silverman is on hand, which is almost always, he will be more than happy to share his knowledge of and enthusiasm for the game in all of its manifestations.
“This is a great destination for family members of all ages,” Silverman said. “We have parents challenging their kids to their favorite games from their childhood. It’s a wonderful bonding experience.”
And while the back story of the evolution of pinball is a big part of the museum, it is hands-on, too, with 75 machines — ranging from classic vintage rail games to those of the modern, high-tech variety — on which to play.
National Pinball Museum 608 Water St., Baltimore. Open Fri-Sun. Prices vary, but start at $12 for all-day admission and 2 hours of play in the Pinhead Gallery. 443-438-1241, nationalpinballmuseum.org.