The Museum of Pinball was solely open for 9 days a yr in pre-Covid instances, however when it was open, it glowed like — nicely, like an arcade in its neon-lit heyday.
Pinball machines might be relegated now to bars or bowling alleys, however for museum proprietor John Weeks, they’d a lifelong attraction. That’s why he opened the Museum of Pinball — to take friends again to their youth, or to introduce younger folks to games they could not discover on an Xbox or PlayStation.
And for a couple of years, the museum was a monument to nostalgia. Weeks’ museum was an arcade with so many games that they’d solely slot in a windowless warehouse in Banning, California. From 2013 to earlier this month, the museum was a vacationer vacation spot for pinball followers, who may pay to play on any of its a whole lot of machines. It billed itself because the world’s largest assortment of pinball machines, and a Guinness World Record was even set there for most individuals enjoying pinball without delay (the document, thanks to the museum and its patrons, is now 331 gamers).
But nostalgia could not maintain the museum perpetually. The Museum of Pinball shuttered for good this month, leaving its illustrious assortment of uncommon or uncommon pinball machines and arcade games — around 1,700 machines complete, Weeks estimates — to be auctioned off. More than 750 of them have already been bought — the remainder will be accessible at a weekend-long auction later this month.

“It’s like a funeral,” Weeks instructed NCS of the museum’s closure. “There’s no place like this place. There probably never will be.”

The museum had an enviable assortment of pinball and arcade games

Weeks’ obsession with pinball has gone by way of phases, however it first peaked when he was in center college, he mentioned.

“When I saw my first pinball machine, I was just 13 or 14 years old, at a motel my dad stayed at in San Diego,” he mentioned.

At the time, he mentioned, he imagined it was the one machine of its type on this planet. So when he returned residence and came upon what number of extra pinball machines there have been, he regarded for methods to make his passion right into a enterprise.

In the Nineteen Seventies, as an adolescent, he opened up an arcade in his dad and mom’ storage. At 18, he traded in his residence location for an actual storefront. That arcade closed a couple of years later, and Weeks deserted his obsession with pinball for a couple of years … till the mid-2000s, when he seen a basic pinball machine within the nook of a bar the place he was attending a live performance, and all these teenage goals of an arcade enterprise returned, he mentioned.

He approached a buddy about opening a “barcade,” however by the point these plans fell by way of, Weeks had already began amassing a large assortment of pinball machines. They’d want a facility giant sufficient to retailer all of them — and Weeks discovered the warehouse in Banning, a small metropolis around 80 miles east of Los Angeles.

The Museum of Pinball also had an enviable assortment of old-school arcade games, which will be auctioned off.

The Museum of Pinball additionally had an enviable assortment of old-school arcade games, which can be auctioned off. Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP through Getty Images

The museum, housed in a 44,000-square-foot warehouse flanked by mountains, had housed around 800 pinball machines and slightly below 1,000 arcade games, Weeks mentioned. They had been all playable, and “people used to visit this place from all over the world” to spend all day enjoying retro arcade games.

The museum in the end wasn’t worthwhile, although, due to its very restricted schedule. Weeks tried to offset the price of working the place by renting area to marijuana growers, he mentioned, however it wasn’t sufficient to hold the pinball paradise open.

Pinball nice Bob Matthews, who runs the INDISC Pinball Tournament, which was held on the Museum of Pinball for 5 years, mentioned followers of the sport would dearly miss Weeks’ museum.
“The greatest thing about the museum was really not just the fact that they had so many games but that they had such a broad variety of games,” Matthews mentioned in an look this month on the Pinball Profile podcast.
The neatly organized Museum of Pinball is closing, and its entire inventory of pinball machines will be sold to individual buyers.

The neatly organized Museum of Pinball is closing, and its complete stock of pinball machines will be bought to particular person patrons. Credit: Lucas Esposito/The Desert Sun/USA TODAY NETWORK

There was hope, briefly, that Weeks may relocate the museum to a brand new location in Palm Springs. Ultimately, the method of transferring 1,700 outsized gaming consoles would’ve been too costly, Weeks mentioned.

The first weekend of the public sale was profitable, incomes greater than $3 million, in accordance to the outlet Pinball News, which recorded the outcomes. Among the most costly machines was a “Back to the Future”-themed machine that bought for $14,000 and a limited-edition Addams Family machine that fetched $22,500.

If you may identify a hyper-specific piece of popular culture, likelihood is that Weeks’ museum had it in pinball type. From Dolly Parton, to “Lethal Weapon 3” and “Star Wars” to the the Pinball Wizard of The Who’s “Tommy,” there was a branded pinball machine (or, within the case of “Star Wars,” at the very least seven) for that.

The Museum of Pinball had an eclectic collection of machines, all of which will be sold at auction.

The Museum of Pinball had an eclectic assortment of machines, all of which can be bought at public sale. Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP through Getty Images

“Each one’s kind of a work or art,” he mentioned.

There are comparable shrines to the arcade centerpiece on the West Coast, together with the Pacific Pinball Museum, Weeks famous. But their collections usually should not as giant or expansive because the Museum of Pinball’s as soon as was.

“There’s other pinball museums popping up — just nothing like this,” he mentioned. “This is like the Disneyland of pinball museums.”

The ultimate auctions of the Museum of Pinball’s assortment will happen nearly from September 24 to 26 by way of Captain’s Auction Warehouse.

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