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D.C. pinball museum a flip back in time

Sunday - 11/28/2010, 10:15pm  ET

pinball4.jpg
The National Pinball Museum opens in Georgetown this Saturday. The flippers in this photo are 9 feet tall. (Michelle Basch/WTOP Photo)
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Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Long before "Call of Duty" and "Farmville" came around, there was pinball.

And whether you're a fan or you've never played before, you might want to set aside some time this weekend.

The National Pinball Museum has relocated from a backyard in Silver Spring, Md. to the Shops at Georgetown Park on M Street in Northwest D.C. The 14,000-square-foot museum opens to the public on Saturday, but WTOP got an early peek.

Walk in and it looks like you're inside a giant pinball game. Intricate designs on the floor run up the walls, and extra-large bumpers serve as seats.

The museum also sports the biggest pair of pinball flippers you'll ever see -- they're 9 feet long. Curator David Silverman says he bought them years ago after an arcade had gone out of business.

Silverman has been playing pinball since he was 4.

"I fell in love with the game aspect, but also the art aspect of it. And it's just evolved into this," he says.

Silverman owns more than 900 machines dating back to the 1930s, including rare prototypes.

"CapCom went out of business before these games ever were produced," he says of two games on display at the museum.

The museum includes a "Pay to Play" area where games are 50 cents a play. There are exhibits highlighting things like the art and design of pinball games, and the days when pinball was illegal.

There's also a walk-through history of pinball that will transport you back in time. Silverman says he's determined to make the place a museum, and not just an arcade.

The museum will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beginning Dec. 9, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Thursday through Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The museum is on the top level of the mall in the space formerly occupied by FAO Schwarz.

Admission is $13.50 for ages 9 and up, while kids younger than 9 get in free. Annual passes are $80.

Click here to get a discount if you buy either a one-day pass or a yearly pass before Dec. 3.

For more information about the museum, click here.

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(Copyright 2010 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)