At SFO Airport: Mansion of Happiness & Sociable Snakes

Who would have imagined that you could find happiness, let alone the Mansion of Happiness at an airport?

But there it is in the SFO Museum’s new exhibit Let’s Play! 100 Years of Board Games at San Francisco International Airport, located post-security in the Terminal 2, Departures Level.

The Mansion of Happiness game is a Parker Brothers’ 1894 reissue of the original version of the game from the 1840s and, according to the exhibit notes, is perhaps the earliest American board game to be mass-produced. Players arrived at the whipping post if they broke the Sabbath and they ended up in poverty if they were idle. But if players landed on squares marked piety, chastity or humility, they were on the path to the Mansion of Happiness.

The Game of the Sociable Snake, c. 1890

If you tour through the exhibit, you’ll learn that the first mass-produced board games in the United States were imported from England during the 1820s and stayed popular through the twentieth century well after the arrival of radio, movie theaters and television. The games on display range from early morality games such as The Mansion of Happiness (above) and The Checkered Game of Life, to classics such a Pa-chee-zee: The Game of India, the Nancy Drew Mystery Game and the children’s favorite, Candy Land.

The Checkered Game of Life 1866

Let’s Play! 100 Years of Board Games is located beyond the security screening in Terminal 2, Departures Level at San Francisco International Airport. The exhibit opens October 28, 2012 and runs through May 19, 2013.

Can’t make it SFO before then? You can see a slide show of some of the games on exhibit online here.

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