CORBIN, Ky. (FOX 56) — Driving down Main Street in Corbin, it might be easy to miss the city’s newest museum. It’s not that flashy on the outside. But inside, it’s a different story.

Lights flash, music blares, and bells ring at the Corbin Pinball Museum, the exhibits are not behind ropes — you can touch almost everything.

“It’s not like you just come in and look at old machines. It’s an active museum, ” said owner Jim Bruso. “We get to pay to play.”

Bruso has loved pinball machines his whole life and has placed a few in businesses he’s owned over the years. In recent years, he found more for sale in auctions or arcades that were going out of business. He started to set them up at his house, until he got too many. So, two years ago, he decided to set the balls in motion to turn his private arcade into a public museum.

“When people come to see our stuff, it’s really mind-blowing, jaw-dropping,” he said.

Bruso has more than 80 machines, vintage ones from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and more recent ones with themes that people flip over. One standout is “Hercules,” the world’s largest pinball machine. He said there were only 350 of them made.

You don’t need a pocket full of quarters at the museum. For $15, a visitor can stay and play as long as they want, or for $20, get an in-and-out pass.

“So you could make the whole day here,” Bruso said. “Go have lunch, come back in, play all night, go have dinner and keep playing until we close.”

Lakin King works at the museum and encourages people to walk through the building before deciding if they want to buy a ticket. “It doesn’t cost anything to take a look,” he said. “But most people decide they want to play.”

He has gotten to know the regulars and some of them have became experts at getting high scores on certain machines.

“Anytime you get your initials on a machine, to me that’s a rush,” King said. “You know you’ve secured your spot. You’re the champion of that machine.”

Some of the earliest pinball machines were considered forms of illegal gambling. One on display was built in the 1940s and has no flippers. People would just bet on what number the ball would land on.

Those machines were often busted up in police raids. So, you can learn a lot of history here. There are facts on the walls describing the background of the vintage machines. That’s the museum aspect of the business, but, again, almost every visitor wants to get in on the action.

Bruso said the appeal is the nostalgia visitors feel.


“They get to come back in and play it again. You get to hear the pings, the pops.”

Bruso didn’t know the museum would be so successful when he decided to give it a spin. But now, he gets visitors from several states. He’s truly found a way to make work seem like play.

“I’ve got to be honest with you, after, you know, traveling a hard day, I can come in here at 3:00 in the morning, blast the music as loud as I want and just play games. It’s very relaxing. It’s very fun.”

The museum has outgrown its space and will be relocating in the summer of 2023 to a 10,000 square foot building just a couple of blocks away. Of course, that means room for more pinball machines, as well as other arcade games and space for parties.