Plans are underway at the Geneva Lake Museum for a new exhibit honoring the late E. Gary Gygax and the fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, which was developed in Lake Geneva and is still popular today with a worldwide following.
Dungeons & Dragons, or D&D as many in the gaming community know it, was first published in 1974 after Gygax and fellow gamer Dave Arneson fine-tuned a war game concept to include fantasy- themed characters. Their Lake Geneva- based company, Tactical Studies Rules, eventually called TSR Inc., experienced a meteoric rise with the success of the game and subsequent products.
Geneva Lake Museum Director of Administration Janet Ewing says the new 500-square-foot exhibit is tentatively scheduled to open in late spring and will be named “A Legacy of Imagination: Gary Gygax & the Creation of a Culture.” It will be comprised of a range of artifacts on loan from “top tier collectors,” Ewing explains.
“We’ll refresh the exhibit every few years to ensure continued interest,” says Elizabeth Loomer, assistant to the director of administration. Loomer, a Dungeons & Dragons fan, who plays the game regularly says, “We’re continuously learning more about Gary and the development of the game, which means there is great potential for an evolving exhibit.”
Ed Schwinn, president of the Geneva Lake Museum board of directors explains, “There are former TSR employees still in the area, including artists and editorial staff and they love to talk about the game and their connection to it. There is great interest in what we’re doing, so they’ve called their friends — many of whom are collectors — and this network of people is receptive to loaning portions of their collections.”
According to Schwinn and Ewing, the museum has received a positive response from throughout the community. The Lake Geneva Tourism Commission has recognized the exhibit’s value and has provided a $10,000 grant to help support it. “I think there is a realization of how this exhibit will benefit the entire community,” says Ewing. “Those visiting Lake Geneva to see the exhibit will patronize many businesses, including hotels, restaurants and shops, and that’s a good thing.”
Lake Geneva attracts thousands each year to Gary Con, the annual game convention that celebrates the life and work of Gygax, and attendees now will have another attraction to visit, explains Ewing. This year’s event will be held at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, March 26-29.
For updates on the museum exhibit, visit genevalakemuseum.org and their Facebook page.