In downtown Roanoke inside the “Center in the Square” complex alongside the Science Museum of Western Virginia, the History Museum of Western Virginia and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture is another museum that touches on technology, history, and culture, albeit in a more lighthearted fashion.
Located on the second floor the Roanoke Pinball museum opened its doors in 2015 and is home to well over 50 pinball machines, ranging in date from 1948 to the late 1990s. A “hands on” museum every exhibit is also playable. One of the oldest pinball machines in the collection is the “Screwball” which dates to 1948 when the flippers were made to point outwards. One of the early machines with flippers they were added as part of the movement of pinball machines from pure gambling devices to games of skill.
Started with a small collection of 10 pinball machines donated by board member Steve Bowrey the museum has grown extensively over the last two years. A labor of love, much of the work done on the machines as well as building out the hand crafted bar was done by volunteers who contributed $2,500 in time and labor rather than cash.
The museum recently celebrated its one year anniversary with pinball competition as well as set up a game bar area featuring old arcade games and drinks.