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The soon-to-open Ann Arbor Pinball Museum needs some building upgrades, and we could use help from the Kickstarter pinball community.
The soon-to-open Ann Arbor Pinball Museum needs some building upgrades, and we could use help from the Kickstarter pinball community.
238 backers pledged $10,338 to help bring this project to life.

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The Ann Arbor PInball Museum.

The Ann Arbor Pinball Museum will soon be a reality. We've purchased 10 acres of property just north of Ann Arbor, Michigan with an old VFW hall on the site. We're in the process of updating the facility to become the Midwest's Ann Arbor Pinball Museum. We just need some help with the facility upgrades before we can open. We are looking to the Kickstarter pinball community to help us upgrade the building so we can open!

One of the big expenses to finishing the museum is the roof, which is in dire need of replacement. At 72+ roof squares of roofing material (approximately $200 per square installed), that's about $15,000 worth of roof (after you add in gutters, flashing, etc. it's actually more.) Hopefully we can hit our goal, but if we go beyond our goal of $5000, we can also do some other needed upgrades inside the facility. For example, the flooring in the facility could certainly go for an upgrade. Also the men's bathroom needs to be re-worked. And last the windows all need replaced. So if we can get past our goal amount, these improvements can be made, and the museum can open in the next few months!

We're not just looking to make this Midwest museum plausible, but are trying to make it a good place. That's the dream, to have a museum to house the collection of over 200 games. Heck the game portion of the museum is basically done and ready! We have over 200 pin games restored and ready for installation at the facility. But we need to make these capital improvements to the building before we can move games into the facility. Otherwise the building is in good shape. (For example the heating/cooling is brand new and ready to go.) Things are looking very positive for a Fall 2013 opening of the museum!

Why a Pinball Museum?

Besides the absolute "cool" factor of the idea of a pinball museum, there are cultural and artistic aspects that are important. Pinball machines are an art form. At first glance it may not appear that way, but a lot of time and energy goes into the artwork and design of a game. They are also a snapshot of the current popular culture and time. From the artwork to the theme to the game design, it's all reflective of the era. Check out the artwork from 1950s and 1960s, and you'll see what I mean. So even if you don't play the games, from an artwork point of view, these machines are a thing a beauty. The work of putting together twelve silk screened color layers onto glass and wood is an art form, and one that can be enjoyed by pinball players and non-players alike. But of course when you flip the flippers and score the points, the whole concept comes together into a total package of visual and physical fun.

Do We Have the Games?

The answer to that is YES. Since we are currently renting warehouse space (not storage units) to house the games, we have been working on the machines and storing them set up and playable. There are about 130 games set up at the warehouse (and another 40 upstairs.) There's another 100 games at another location (again set up and restored.) To that point, the museum curator (Clay Harrell) is very good at pinball repair and restoration, so the games are good to go. This isn't a case of "too many chiefs and not enough braves" running the show, with no one on-staff to do actual repairs and restoration. Mr.Harrell is known for his repair skill set, which makes this whole affair much easier to manage. Because if the games don't work, there isn't much point in having them at a museum. Also keep in mind this is a complete collection of coin operated pinball, with machines range from the 1930s to present time.

Why a Pinball Museum in the Midwest?

The coasts seem to have a pinball museum or two, but there really isn't anything in the Midwest. Well it's our time for a pinball museum! Michigan is a hot spot for pinball, with a significant amount of people and game distributors from the 1930s to present to make a museum feasible. (Games seem probably in the Midwest.)

Risks and challenges

Pretty much all project obstacles have been overcome. The building upgrades are all that is needed. Mostly the roof, as we aren't going to move 200 games into a facility without a good roof! Otherwise we have township approval for our business plan, and largely the rest of the building is ready to go. Sure there's some minor adjustments to the facility that are needed, but we are addressing these now, and none are of serious consequence in terms of money or time.

The only other risk is how much the museum can be open. We have an agreement with the township that we can "go public" up to four weekends a year, basically once a quarter. (This is much like the agreement the PAPA pinball facility has with their township.) However the museum is available in a more private setting nearly every day. Just contact us if you're in the area and want a tour. (Kickstarter contributors welcome!)

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Pledge $20 and come for a one time private visit to the Ann Arbor pinball museum!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Pledge $50 and come for a one time private visit to the Ann Arbor pinball museum and while there get a free tshirt with the museum's design.

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    64 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Pledge $200 and come once a month for private visits until May 2014 to the Ann Arbor pinball museum. Also get a free tshirt with the museum's design.

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    6 backers
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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    Pledge $400 and come to the Ann Arbor pinball museum many many times until May 2014. Also get a free tshirt while you're there.

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    5 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)