At one time in the country, pinball machines were a common form of entertainment. Just about anywhere you could go, you’d come across one of these machines hoping to earn a few of your coins in return for a little excitement. Pinball machines aren’t seen today like they were decades ago, but that hasn’t stopped the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda CA from celebrating the pinball machine in a way like no other. Located at 1510 Webster St, Alameda, CA 94501, this sprawling museum is keeping alive the pastime and hobby cherished by Americans in a time before video games, and they do it with authentic zeal. Here’s everything you need to know about the museum and its roots in the local California culture.
The Pacific Pinball Museum is an interactive museum, meaning that besides having interesting bits of cultural history, you can also play with some of the pinball machines just as they were intended. The museum features games dating back to the 1940s, with contemporary murals and jukeboxes that provide an authentic experience. The exhibits provide you with the full experience you might seek from a retro arcade. Going there, you can truly get the feel for culture from a time that’s now long past.
For such a curious museum, it might leave you wondering how it all got started. That would be thanks to Michael Schiess, a pinball machine collector, and exhibition designer. With experience in the field and a passion for pinball machines, Schiess decided to open a museum for his interests after finding other exhibits to be lacking. Thus, in 2004 he opened the Pacific Pinball Museum and eventually earned its nonprofit status. In its early years, he managed to acquire dozens of pinball machines to furnish the exhibit. Later, a pinball themed gift shop was opened to collect additional funds for operating and further expansions.
The growth and expansion of the museum have been nothing short of impressive. Today, there are almost 1000 machines owned by the museum, with some of them dating back to the end of the 19th century. With so many machines in the collection, an amount of them has to be stored in a secret location to prevent them from getting damaged or lost, when not on display. Many of these pieces are exceedingly valuable, with historic relevance such as the Art Deco-styled Bally Bumper that was once taken by police during prohibition.
In conclusion, there’s a lot you can observe about the culture and history of pinball machines at the Pacific Pinball Museum. The creators of the exhibit don’t miss showing the important details about the machines and the time they’re from. Michael Schiess has worked hard putting together an exhibit that captures his interest in the way it was meant to be seen and is still working every day to keep that passion alive for Californians. If you ever end up in the Alameda area, the museum is a spot that’s surely worth a stop for a few hours of fun.
Getting to Silva & Associates from Pacific Pinball Museum
via Constitution Way
- Head north on Webster St toward Haight Ave
- Turn right at the 2nd cross street onto Lincoln Ave
- Turn left onto Constitution Way
- Keep right to continue on Mariner Square Dr
- Turn right onto Marina Village Pkwy
- Turn right
- Slight right