Late Monday morning, several families with children enjoyed games of marbles, jacks and the ancient Egyptian board game of Senet. The games, from ancient to modern, are part of a new exhibit at the Georgia Southern University Museum.
After being closed since April 19 for renovations, the museum reopened Monday, debuting its “Games” exhibit for the summer. Visitors can travel back in time to play precedents of modern games while tracing how games developed over time, said Dr. Brent Tharp, Georgia Southern Museum director.
Tharp said he expects that the interactive nature of the exhibit will bring some families back several times during the summer.
“Kids can work off some energy outside the house and parents can stay cool inside the museum,” Tharp said. “I’m sure we’ll see several again and again. And that’s great.”
The exhibit contains a section on sports, where guests can compete against the radar gun at the pitching booth to improve their speed, and a section on American folk games, like marbles and jacks, where parents can rediscover old favorites and children can play the game possibly for the first time.
New to the exhibit this year, visitors will also find a Wii Sports game to play in the exhibit's computers and games section. Here, guests can trace the development of the video game from the first tic-tac-toe game to the variety of games available today.
“The Internet and other things have changed gaming so much. You can sit down and play with the ancient game of Senet with someone in Egypt if you want,” Tharp said. “It comes full circle in some ways, but some of the core things are always there whether it’s entertaining or challenging.”
Ancient board games from places such as Africa, China’s Tang Dynasty and the ancient Sumerian City of Ur are just a few of the games that carry an underlying history lesson.
For instance, guests can try their hand at “Mancala,” likely the oldest game discovered, or the ancient Chinese game of “Go,” which was used to train politicians and warriors in Feudal Japan and follow how games changed as leisure time became more available for more people, Tharp said.
The Games exhibit is open through Aug. 22. The museum does not charge an admission fee for individuals. but accepts donations. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.