I have to admit that I stumbled upon this place by accident. I was on my way to tour the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and passed by the museum. It is next door to Six Flags Over Texas.
While I haven’t bowled in quite some time I still enjoy the sport. I had to come back during open hours to take a tour. Note that there is very little parking available. Check ahead to see about alternative parking. I got the last space available during my visit.
While the sign gets your attention the entrance is a bit boring which is a shame because the inside is much more appealing.
Of course the lobby has a motorcycle appropriately named “Strike Bike” inside the doors. It’s starting to look better already.
Also located in the lobby was the required gift store. This also doubles as the ticket counter and the museum exit.
Upon entering the museum itself you encounter several displays and videos that record bowling’s association with NASCAR through promotions and advertising. Richard Petty is a big bowling fan.
There are several displays that tell you about the history of bowling. The sport dates back to the Egyptians. Then it spread throughout Europe before coming to America as people did.
There is a lot of information about the development of the sport during the 1800’s. These are considered the Founding Fathers of organized bowling. They were instrumental in standardizing changes in the sport throughout the years.
There are some interesting displays about pinboys and the progression towards automation. Automated machines made there debut in the 1950’s. It may have put the pinboys out of work but it was instrumental in popularizing bowling.
Along with the advent of automation came television. The combination of these elements caused bowling to soar in popularity.
Behind the guy in the chair is a 1950’s era bowling alley complete with an automated pin setter. Unfortunately you cannot play on it.
They do, however, have one that you can play on. While it is not “regulation” bowling, it was fun to play. I did learn two things. One is that this is much different from bowling and two, that I need lots of practice.
There are several more displays in the gallery below devoted to women’s bowling, special Olympics bowling, junior bowling, the science of bowling, and many more.
The last room on the tour is the Hall of Fame. I was kind of expecting a bit more. The various members are displayed on video screens instead of permanent busts. Still, fans of the sport will love reminiscing through the Hall of Fame members.
Next door to the museum is the International Bowling Training and Research Center. This was closed the day I went because there was actual training going on. Essentially, anyone that bowls at a high level will eventually end up here. They will also give tours on days when the facility is not being used.
While the outside is not very colorful, the inside is filled with lots of information, displays, videos, and more that are very interesting to anyone even mildly attracted to the sport. I was really surprised that this was so close. Many of their visitors come from all over the world. This was well worth the admission price of $9.50.
You can find out much more at the website below: