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Rhode Island’s Electromagnetic Pinball Museum and Restoration

The Electromagnetic Pinball Museum and Restoration in Pawtucket, Rhode Island pairs love and appreciation for history, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics with entertaining, interactive pinball exhibits. The museum’s amazing pinball machine collection consists of 1950’s classics to present day and everything in between.

YurView’s Simply New England show had the pleasure of visiting the museum this year to partake in all the fun. Watch the segment above for a tour of the museum or read the video transcription we’ve shared below (lightly edited for clarity).

Electromagnetic Pinball Museum and Restoration
Electromagnetic Pinball Museum and Restoration, Pawtucket, RI

Pinball Machine Collection

Emily Rose, Electromagnetic Pinball (00:07) – We’re here at Electromagnetic Pinball Museum and Restoration in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Michael Pare, Electromagnetic Pinball (00:13) – Electromagnetic Pinball is the accumulation of several people that have come together and decided to forward the mission of pinball, which is to get people out there and playing and get social.

Joe Paquin, Electromagnetic Pinball (00:25) – We’ve got all sorts of pinball machines, from the classics, from the 1950 woodrails right up to the present day and everything in between.

MP (00:34) – We started with the Addams Family about 10 years ago and the collection has grown steadily ever since.

ER (00:39) – The Addams Family, just growing up in the arcade in the 90s really was a lot.

MP (00:45) – It’s the one that started it all. It’s the one that got the hook in the mouth.

Electromagnetic Pinball Museum and Restoration

ER (00:48) – And then we got an electromechanical next. It kind of all clicked. So we kept buying pinball. And then I guess a hobby turned into addiction turned into a disease. You catch the pinball bug, and that’s it.

MP (01:04) – Four years ago, we had maybe like 12 machines. Two years ago, we had about 30 machines and now we’re somewhere around 100 machines. We have electromechanical pinball machines, and they go all the way up I think until 1976 when solid state pinball machines started taking over.

ER (01:20) – Pre 1976 Pinball was considered gambling.

MP (01:22) Oh, it was. It was undoubtedly gambling when it first started.

ER (01:26) – Roger Sharpe went before the New York City Council and proved with flippers Pinball is a game of skill, not a game of chance. So it made it considered not gambling.

Electromagnetic Pinball Museum and Restoration

Games at the Museum

MP (01:36) – What makes a good pinball machine? That’s a difficult question. What makes a good sports car? Some people like a fast action, non-stop fun. Some people like a game that will actually stop and show them a little movie, distract them for a little while and then the ball gets dropped into play.

JP (01:51) – My favorite machine is probably this Casino right here. This Casino machine is an amazing machine. That’s a 1958 and this is the stuff I grew up on.

ER (02:02) – We have this game called The Haunted Cruise. It’s a one-of-a-kind machine made by our friend.

JP (02:09) – We also have a lot of arcade games as well like skee ball. There’s air hockey, there’s Pop-A-Shot, there’s driving games, this classic Pac Man. So we’ve got classic arcade games here as well. We’ve got everything, not just pinball. People always ask us how do you acquire these things?

Acquiring & Restoring the Machines

MP (02:28) – Well, they come from all over the place. Sometimes people donate machines to us because we’re a nonprofit. We appreciate three In Memoriam. We found two on the side of the road. One was found in a tent in Martha’s Vineyard.

JP (02:38) – Some of them are in pretty good condition when we get them. Other ones literally have mice in them, so they require an awful lot of cleaning.

MP (02:47) – We call it pinball funk. So it takes us about 30/40 hours to get that out.

JP (02:51) – Sometimes after a good cleaning and just a few parts, they’re up and running again.

Pinball Community, Tour & Play

MP (02:56) – I don’t think you’ll find more friendly people anywhere on the planet than the pinball community ever since we started 10 years ago. They have been welcoming and very helpful.

ER (03:04) – You can play a video game at home still, but you really do need to go out to get the social atmosphere for a pinball game. We like pinball because it’s real. That’s something Michael says.

MP (03:15) – Unlike a video game, where the Koopa is always on the same place Level 2 World 1, it’s always going to be there. Pinball changes from game to game to game. You are never going to have the same game twice, no matter how hard you try.

ER (03:26) – We offer a free tour to everybody that comes in.

JP (03:30) – It’s $10 to play all day. There is no reentry fee and $10 is $10. All day is all day – 10:00 in the morning to nine o’clock at night. All the machines are set on free play. You don’t have to carry a bunch of quarters.

ER (03:41) – It’s been such a good response. So it’s kind of you get what you give, and we’ve been given a lot. So we’re really trying to give back.

For more information about the Electromagnetic Pinball Museum and Restoration, visit electromagneticpinballmuseum.com.

To watch more videos from Simply Southern New England, check out SSNE on YouTube. The show airs on YurView New England – Saturdays at 2pm & 9:30pm, Sundays at 7:30pm and Wednesdays at 9:30pm on Ch. 4 (Providence, RI), Ch. 128 (Hartford, CT) and Ch. 2 (Holland, MA).